Indian police raid homes of ex-finance minister, son



NEW DELHI: India’s federal police on Tuesday searched the homes of former finance minister P. Chidambaram and his son as part of an investigation into suspected corruption during his time in government.

The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) is probing whether a finance company owned by Chidambaram’s son Karti helped a client to circumvent limits on foreign investment.

The allegations date back to 2008 when his father, now a senior leader of the opposition Congress Party and vocal critic of the current government, was finance minister.

“We are investigating if there was criminal misconduct in (the) grant of foreign investment approval to INX Media,” a CBI official said on condition of anonymity.

At the time, foreign investments were tightly regulated, and Karti Chidambaram’s company is alleged to have helped INX Media bring in money from overseas.

Police also raided the former home of INX Media founder Peter Mukerjea, who is in jail on charges of murder related to the death of his stepdaughter.

Mukerjea was one of India’s leading media magnates before his arrest in 2015 and is a former chief executive of media behemoth Star India.

Karti Chidambaram denied the allegations, while his father accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) of using the younger man to wage a political vendetta against him.

“The government, by using CBI and other agencies, is targeting my son and his friends,” he said in a statement, according to the Press Trust of India.

“The government’s aim is to silence my voice and stop me from writing… I shall continue to speak and write,” said Chidambaram who writes newspaper columns that are often critical of the government.

Chidambaram served twice as finance minister and also as the home minister in the Congress-led coalition which was defeated by the BJP in 2014 after a decade in power.

The party had been hit by a string of corruption scandals as well as perceived mismanagement of the economy.
In a separate case, income tax authorities raided properties linked to former government minister Lalu Prasad Yadav over alleged tax evasion and illegal land deals.

The raids were welcomed by Yadav’s opponents in Bihar, a state he once presided over as chief minister and his party now rules in an alliance.

“Mr Yadav, already a convicted politician, and his family acquired several properties through illegitimate and illegal means which needs to be investigated,” Devesh Kumar, BJP vice president in Bihar, told AFP.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s BJP, which rules in New Delhi, is the main opposition party in the eastern state.  —AFP