After the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and the Enforcement Directorate (ED), now the income tax (I-T) department has turned its attention to the charges of money laundering and kickbacks in the INX Media case.
The deputy director of income tax (investigation) had approached the special CBI court for permission to record statement of Indrani under Section 131 of Income Tax Act. Investigators from the IT department obtained the permission on Wednesday and will interrogate Indrani Mukerjea today at Byculla Jail.
Mukerjea, an accused in the murder of Sheena Bora, founded INX Media with her ex-husband Peter Mukerjea in 2007.
The Mukerjeas have been charged with entering into a criminal conspiracy with Karti Chidambaram, whose father P Chidambaram was then the finance minister, to get foreign investments and evade punitive measures for not having the necessary approvals from the Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB). In March 2018, Mukerjea told the CBI in a statement recorded under Section 164 of the CrPC, that a deal of USD 1 million was struck between Karti Chidambaram and the Mukerjeas to secure approval from the FIPB in favour of INX Media.
Central agencies have been probing various aspects of the Mukerjeas’ finances and sources said the income tax department wants to question Mukerjea on the joint accounts held by her and Peter in New Zealand.
According to the findings of the ED, which probed the money laundering allegations, the couple allegedly siphoned GBP 90 million in the INX media deal. “Illicit funds gathered by the couple have been siphoned off to overseas unknown destination and routed back in UK and India through Mauritius-based foreign investors. It is also revealed during the investigation that Rabin Mukerjea, son of Peter, is handling funds of Peter and Indrani, which were held in the form of bonds in New Zealand,” said the ED in its application before the special CBI court in 2017.
The FIPB’s letter dated May 31, 2007 permitted INX Media to receive foreign investment for Rs 46.2 million approximately as total investment inflow, including premium. However, INX Media, received foreign investment totalling to Rs. 3,053.6 million between August 22, 2007 and June 12, 2008.
The ED believes the excess foreign exchange equivalent to Rs. 3,007.4 million, beyond the disclosed and permitted foreign investment, was received by INX Media from three Mauritiusbased foreign investors.
Karti Chidambaram has denied the charges of receiving bribes from the Mukerjea.