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CBI raids Chidambaram, son and Mukerjeas over INX Media

MUMBAI: Peter Mukerjea and wife Indrani are back in the news for all the wrong reasons, this time for the media venture they started called INX Media.

The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on Tuesday searched the homes and offices of former finance minister P Chidambaram’s son Karti and the Mukerjeas. The allegation is that they were trying to influence the Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) for granting approval to INX Media, a company founded by Indrani and Peter.

INX Media was floated in 2007 and the company launched channels like Hindi general entertainment channel (GEC) 9X and music channel 9XM. INX News launched NewsX. Subsequently, the Mukerjeas sold their stakes and exited from these two companies. INX Media was renamed as 9X Media in 2010.

CBIA team of CBI officials visited Mukerjea’s residence in Worli early in the morning and the search continued till 5 pm. Both Peter and Indrani are accused in the Sheena Bora murder case and are in jail.

Another team of CBI officials searched the registered office of 9X Media in Powai in suburban Mumbai.

CBI sleuths searched 14 locations including the Chidambaram’s properties in Chennai, Mumbai, Delhi and Gurgaon.

The investigating agency had filed an FIR on Monday against Karti, Indrani and Peter Mukerjea on charges of criminal conspiracy, cheating, receiving illegal gratification, influencing public servants and criminal misconduct.

So, what is the background of the case? In 2007, INX Media sought FIPB nod to raise Rs 4.62 crore from foreign companies. INX Media also sought permission to make a 26% investment in INX News.

The FIPB did not clear the 26% investment into INX News and asked the company to seek fresh approval.

The CBI has alleged that INX Media violated the conditional approval of FIPB and brought in more than Rs 305 crore of FDI against the approved inflow of Rs 4.62 crore by issuing shares to foreign investors at a premium of more than Rs 800 per share.

As per the investigating agency, INX Media made an investment of 26% in INX News without requisite approval.

In its FIR, the CBI has alleged that the FIPB sought clarification from INX Media after the income tax department began probing the investment. It is then that INX Media approached Karti, promoter director of Chess Management Service (P) Ltd, to “amicably” resolve the issue by “influencing the public servants of the FIPB unit of Ministry of Finance by virtue of his relationship with the then Finance Minister, P Chidambaram” .