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Chidambaram lashes out at govt after raids on firm linked to son

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New Delhi: Hours after raids were conducted in Chennai on a firm linked to former Union Minister P Chidambaram’s son, the senior Congress leader slammed the government for its “malicious onslaught”, calling upon the Centre to target him directly, instead of harassing his family members.

Two raids were conducted by the Enforcement Directorate and the Income Tax department in Chennai and one of them was on Advantage Strategic Consulting, a company with which Karti Chidambaram, the minister’s son, was reportedly associated earlier.

“If the Government wishes to target me, they should do so directly, not harass friends of my son who carry on their own businesses and have nothing to do with politics,” the former union minister said in a statement, adding, “My family and I are quite prepared to face the malicious onslaught launched by the Government.”

According to reports, two directors of Advantage Strategic Consulting had been summoned by the ED in connection with the Aircel-Maxis case and charges of money laundering.

The investigating agencies are reportedly probing an alleged financial transaction of more than Rs 200 crore between these two companies raided on Tuesday and Aircel Maxis just before clearance came from the Foreign Investment Promotion Board or FIPB for the Aircel merger. The case is a part of the overall probe into the 2G scam being monitored by the Supreme Court.

Here’s the full text of Chidambaram’s statement:

I am traveling and I have been informed about searches conducted on certain firms in Chennai allegedly linked to my son.

If the Government wishes to target me, they should do so directly, not harass friends of my son who carry on their own businesses and have nothing to do with politics.

We have made it clear, repeatedly, that no member of my family has any equity or economic interest in any of the firms that are being targeted. They are companies that are professionally managed and are capable of answering any questions that may be put to them by the authorities. I condemn the attempt to link them to my son and harass them on that ground.

The agenda of the Government is being implemented by an officer of the Enforcement Directorate who has a pending dispute with the Department of Revenue, Ministry of Finance. Orders in his case were apparently passed during the term of my predecessor. He met me and wanted me to intervene in his favour. I declined and I told him that I cannot reverse orders that were issued during the term of my predecessor. The change of Government has given him an opportunity to misuse his powers to harass my son and his friends.

My family and I are quite prepared to face the malicious onslaught launched by the Government.

P. Chidambaram

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Algeria Embarking ‘Clean Hands’ Campaign Against Corruption, Questions Tycoons

Corruption is a major complaint of the masses of protesters who helped drive longtime leader Abdelaziz Bouteflika from office earlier this month

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algeria, clean hands campaign, corruption
FILE - Protestors carry a large flag and chant slogans during a demonstration against the country's leadership, in Algiers, April 12, 2019. VOA

Algerian authorities are embarking on a “Clean Hands” campaign aimed at rooting out corruption that has been linked to top tycoons and current and former government officials. Corruption is a major complaint of the masses of protesters who helped drive longtime leader Abdelaziz Bouteflika from office earlier this month. New protests are scheduled for Friday.

Several influential Algerians have been questioned or arrested in recent days. Among them is Issad Rebrab, head of Algeria’s biggest private conglomerate Cevital, who is suspected of possible customs-related violations and other financial wrongdoing, according to prosecutors.

Rebrab, 75, is estimated by Forbes to be Algeria’s richest man and employs 18,000 workers in his agribusiness empire. He tweeted that he went in voluntarily for police questioning. He was questioned for six hours before being taken to the El Harrach prison.

clean hands campaign, corruption
Corruption is a major complaint of the masses of protesters who helped drive longtime leader Abdelaziz Bouteflika from office earlier this month. VOA

Others targeted include a legislator accused of accepting bribes from a Chinese company. Also detained for questioning this week were three wealthy brothers believed close to Bouteflika’s brother Said, and seven Industry Ministry officials suspected of “non respect of contractual commitments with state enterprises” and influence trading.

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The Kouninef brothers’ lawyers said they are respecting the legal procedures but need time to consult the case files before commenting. The brothers made their fortune in the oil, food and advertising businesses.

The highest court in Algeria announced in a statement Wednesday that it is considering a case against ex-energy minister Chakib Khelil for acts related to “violations of foreign exchange laws and transfers of capital to foreigners.” Khelil is a close friend of Bouteflika and a high school classmate. Other former ministers are also targeted. (VOA)