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Thursday, 18 January 2018 | J Gopikrishnan | New Delhi- The Enforcement Directorate (ED) has come out with a startling report showing that as many as 63 companies, including the conglomerates like Vodafone, Carin, Aditya Birla Nova, Arcelor-Mittal, Diageo, DLF, Essar, Godrej, GVK, Vedanta, Quippo, Maruti Suzuki and Sterlite, were clients of Chess Management Services Private Limited, a company of former Finance Minister P Chidambaram’s son Karti Chidambaram. As FM, Chidambaram was also in-charge of Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) and a member of Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA), handling foreign investment proposals and other clearances of these firms. The report is significant since the ED and the CBI have already found that Karti-controlled Advantage Strategic Consulting Pvt Limited and Chess Management had taken bribes from Aircel-Maxis & INX Media for facilitating FIPB clearances through Chidambaram. The firms received around Rs 5 crore and two lakh dollars from INX Media and Malaysian company Maxis respectively when FIPB clearance files were with Chidambaram. The ED has compiled the latest report about these 63 companies on the basis of a joint raid carried out by its team along with Income Tax’s Chennai unit. The computers of Karti and his firms seized during the raid led to the discovery of the list of major clients served by the Chess Management Services Pvt Ltd. The ED is now probing whether any irregularity took place regarding giving any clearance to these companies by Chidambaram. Already they have found that British liquor giant Diageo, which took over UB Group from liquor baron Vijay Mallya, paid 15,000 dollars as service charge to the Karti’s company for fixing appointment of its head Lord Blyth with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Chidambaram. Lord Blyth met Singh and Chidambaram just before the announcement of Rs 4,000 crore takeover of Mallay’s UB Group. The email trails of this payment seized by investigators show that the “service charge” paid to Karti’s firm by British company was on July 1, 2005. Now the ED’s compilation of Chess Management’s client list shows that Diageo Scotland Limited, Diageo Radico Distilleries Limited, and Diageo Scotland Holdings BV Netherland were its clients from 2005. Chess Management was started by Karti and his cousin Annamalai Palaniappan in 1998. Karti resigned from its Directorship in March 2013 after his role came under scanner in the Aircel-Maxis scam. According to the agencies, Aditya Birla Nova Ltd, Aircel Televenutre, Arcelor MIttal, Maxis subsidiary Astro All Asia Network, Bajaj Hindustan, Bharat Aluminum Company Ltd, Bharati Realiity Limited, Carin India and Carin UK Holdings, Carlton Trading, Carrier Air-conditioning, Claris Life Science, Daikin Air-conditioning, DIAL, Delphi TVS, Diageo, DLF Universal, EL Forge Limited, Essar Group, GVK Power, Hazira LNG, IL&FS Group, INX Media, ITC Centre-STFC, Katara Group, Maxis Mobile, Max Bupa Health Insurance, Maruti Suzuki, Praj Industries, Quippo Infrastructure, S Kumar, Sesa Goa, SKF India, Vedanata Alumina Ltd, Vodafone Essar and subsidiaries were the major clients of Chess Management when  Chidambaram was Finance Minister and in-charge of FIPB and CCEA. For the past two years, Karti is evading repeated summons issued by the ED in Aircel-Maxis and INX Media bribe cases. In a fresh summon, the ED has asked Karti to appear before it on January 18.

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