The Enforcement Directorate on Saturday conducted searches at ten premises linked to Karti Chidambaram, including the residence of his father and Congress leader P Chidambaram in Delhi, in connection with its money laundering probe in the Aircel-Maxis case.
The raids were initiated early morning in nine premises in Chennai and at the Jorbagh residence of senior Chidambaram in south Delhi, official sources said.
Those searched include a chartered accountant linked to Karti, his personal assistant and Karti's residence at Thousand Lights area in Chennai, they said.
The sources said that certain "incriminating" documents have been seized during the raids.
P Chidambaram termed the raids against his son "a comedy of errors" and claimed the officers were left "embarrassed" and "apologetic" as they could not find anything at his house.
He was speaking to media persons outside his Jorbagh residence in New Delhi.
The central probe agency had, on December 1 last year, conducted similar searches on the premises of a relative of Karti and others in this case.
"They have searched premises in Chennai again but in a comedy of errors they came to search my premises in Jorbagh. Officers told me that they believed that Karti was an occupant of the house. I told them he is a resident of Chennai and I am the occupant of this house," Chidambaram told reporters.
"Since they had the search warrant, I did not raise any objections to the search but I said I will record my protest that there is no FIR in respect of the scheduled crime registered by any investigating agency including the CBI.
"There are obviously no proceeds of crime and the ED has no jurisdiction under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act," he added.
The former finance minister said that the ED officials searched the place "including the kitchen and the bathroom and obviously they found nothing. They were embarrassed and apologetic that they found me as the occupant but they had no option but to complete the search".
"Since they had to justify the search, they took some background papers related to a statement made by the government in Parliament in 2012-13. In Chennai also they found nothing, seized nothing," he claimed.
The Congress leader also made a tongue and cheek remark, saying "I will compliment them (investigating agencies) if they are able to find anything (objectionable) in raids in future".
However, ED sources said their action is based on the FIR registered by the agency and the CBI in the case that has not been quashed by the court.
The ED case pertains to the Foreign Investment Promotion Board approval granted in 2006 by the then finance minister P Chidambaram.
The agency had said it is investigating the circumstances of the said FIPB approval granted by the then finance minister (P Chidambaram)".
The ED also alleged that Karti has "disposed of" a property in Gurgaon, which he had allegedly rented out to a multinational company "to whom foreign direct investment approval had been granted in 2013".
It charged that Karti had "also closed certain bank accounts and attempted to close other bank accounts in order to frustrate the process of attachment" under the PMLA.
The agency said FIPB approval in the Aircel-Maxis FDI case was granted in March, 2006 by the then finance minister even though he was competent to accord approval on project proposals only up to Rs 600 crore and beyond that it required the approval of the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs.
"In the instant case, the approval for FDI of 800 million USD (over Rs 3,500 crore) was sought. Hence, CCEA was competent to grant approval.
"However, approval was not obtained from CCEA," it alleged.
Karti is also being probed by the ED in an another money laundering case pertaining to the INX media deal.
He has been asked to appear by the agency on January 16 in this case.
Image: Former finance minister P Chidambaram arrives to address the media at his residence after the Enforcement Directorate conducted raids at his son Karti Chidamabaram's Delhi and Chennai premises. Photograph: PTI Photo