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CBI arrests close aide of Karti Chidambaram in bribery case

Source: PTI   -  Edited By: Utkarsh Mishra
May 18, 2022 21:23 IST
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The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on Wednesday arrested S Bhaskararaman, a close associate of Lok Sabha MP Karti Chidambaram, in connection with a Rs 50 lakh alleged bribery case for clearing visas of 263 Chinese nationals working at Talwandi Sabo Power Ltd in Punjab, officials said.

The bribery incident allegedly took place in 2011 when Karti Chidambaram's father P Chidambaram was the Union home minister.

The CBI took Bhaskararaman for questioning late Tuesday and arrested him early Wednesday in Chennai, they said.

 

He will be brought to Delhi by Wednesday night and produced before the Special CBI Court at Rouse Avenue on Thursday, they said.

Bhaskararaman was earlier arrested by Enforcement Directorate in the INX media case.

The agency has alleged that Bhaskararaman was approached by Vikas Makharia, the then associate vice president of Talwandi Sabo Power Ltd (TSPL), for the reissue of project visas for 263 Chinese workers working at the Mansa-based power plant which was in the process of being set up.

The CBI FIR, which contains the findings of the investigating officer who probed the PE, has alleged that Makharia approached Karti Chidambaram through his 'close associate/front man' Bhaskararaman, officials said.

'They devised a back-door way to defeat the purpose of ceiling (maximum of project visas permissible to the company's plant) by granting permission to reuse 263 project visas allotted to the said Chinese company's officials,' they said.

Project visas were a special type of visa introduced in 2010 for the power and steel sector for which detailed guidelines were issued during P Chidambaram's tenure as the home minister but there was no provision of reissue of project visas, the FIR alleged.

'As per prevalent guidelines, deviation in rare and exceptional cases could be considered and granted only with the approval of the Home Secretary. However, in view of the above circumstances, the deviation in terms of reuse of project visas is likely to be approved by the then home minister...,' it further alleged.

Makharia allegedly submitted a letter to the home ministry on July 30, 2011, seeking approval to reuse the project visas allotted to his company, which was approved within a month and permission was issued, officials said.

'On August 17, 2011, Makharia, on being directed by Bhaskararaman, sent a copy of the above letter dated July 30, 2011 to him through e-mail which was forwarded to Karti... Bhaskararaman after discussion with P Chidambaram, the then home minister, demanded an illegal gratification of Rs 50 lakh for ensuring the approval,' the FIR alleged.

It alleged that the payment of the said bribe was routed from TSPL to Karti Chidambaram and Bhaskararaman through Mumbai-based Bell Tools Ltd with payments camouflaged under two invoices raised for consultancy and out of pocket expenses for Chinese visas related work.

Makharia had later thanked Karti Chidambaram and Bhaskararaman through an e-mail, it added.

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Source: PTI  -  Edited By: Utkarsh Mishra© Copyright 2022 PTI. All rights reserved. Republication or redistribution of PTI content, including by framing or similar means, is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent.
 
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