On Monday, former Finance Minister and Senior Congress leader P Chidambaram said that it was “preposterous” that any of his family members could influence six secretaries of the central government who were a part of FIPB.
“Anyone familiar with the working of the FIPB knows that no single officer can take a decision on any proposal. It is a collective decision of six Secretaries. Anyone who has worked with me knows that no one would dare to influence my decisions. I had never allowed any family member to speak to me or to any officer of my ministry on any official matter. It is therefore preposterous to suggest that a member of my family, with or without my knowledge, influenced, by corrupt or illegal means, the six Secretaries who constituted the FIPB. Such an allegation is a despicable slur on the six Secretaries of the government who constituted the FIPB at the relevant time”, he said in a statement.
About two weeks ago, the CBI had lodged a FIR against Karti, INX Media founders Indrani and Peter Mukerjea on charges of criminal conspiracy, cheating, receiving illegal gratification, influencing public servants and criminal misconduct. Karti was charged with receiving money from INX Media through a company which was “indirectly controlled by him” for using his influence to manipulate a tax probe against it.
“I can say with absolute certainty that Karti Chidambaram had never met any officer connected with the FIPB. Besides, he had no connection with the applicant company (INX Media/INX News)”, said Chidambaram.
Chidambaram said that the FIPB was serviced by a secretariat chaired by the Secretary economic affairs. It included four other secretaries (industry, commerce, external affairs and overseas Indian affairs) and the secretary of the administrative ministry.
“Five of them were among the senior most IAS officers and the sixth was a senior IFS officer of the Ministry of External Affairs. Each one of them had a long and distinguished record of service. The recommendations of the FIPB were submitted to the Ministry of Finance where they were once again examined by the junior officers and then by the Additional Secretary and the Secretary before the file was put up to the Minister. Each file put up to the Minister would usually contain a number of cases and the recommendations of the FIPB and the Secretary, Economic Affairs”, he said.
“At the relevant time, the FIPB was chaired by Dr D Subba Rao, IAS who later became the Governor of RBI. He was succeeded by Mr Ashok Chawla, IAS who later became Chairman of the Competition Commission of India. The other Secretaries were equally distinguished civil servants”, he added.