Trouble mounts for P Chidambaram...CBI arrests his son Karti's close associate in a Rs 50 lakh bribery case!

A day after conducting the raids at the properties linked to former Union Minister P Chidambaram in connection to the allegations against his son and Lok Sabha MP Karti Chidambaram, the CBI has on Wednesday - May 18 arrested S Bhaskararaman, a close associate of Karti Chidambaram. A case has been registered against the latter in a Rs 50 lakh alleged bribery case for clearing visas of 263 Chinese nationals. 

According to reports, the CBI took Bhaskararaman for questioning late on Tuesday night and he was placed under arrest in the wee hours of Wednesday. The central agency has said 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 established. 

It has been further alleged that Makharia has approached Karti Chidambaram through Bhaskararaman. The CBI's FIR says that they had devised a back doorway to defeat the purpose of the 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. For granting the visas, Karti was alleged to have taken a Rs 50 lakh bribe and this incident has happened in 2011 when his father P Chidambaram was the Union Home Minister. 

The CBI officials further said Makharia has submitted a letter to the Union Home Ministry on July 30, 2011, seeking approval to reuse the project visas allotted to his company. His request was approved within a month and permission was issued by the Home Ministry, which was led by P Chidambaram. The FIR has 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, demanded an illegal gratification of Rs 50 lakh for ensuring the approval." 

It has further been alleged that the payment of the said bribe was routed from TSPL to Karti 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 works. Makharia had later thanked Karti and Bhaskararaman on mail. The sleuths of the CBI had stormed the places linked to Chidambaram on Tuesday - May 17. 

The searches were conducted at three locations in Chennai including P Chidambaram's residence in Nungambakkam, Chennai, three places in Mumbai, and one each in Karnataka, Delhi, Punjab, and Odisha. In the midst of searches, Chidambaram had reacted to the raids on Tuesday and said that the timing of the search is interesting. He also cited that the search team has found nothing in the search at his residence in Chennai. 

Taking to Twitter, the former Union Minister wrote, "This morning, a CBI team searched my residence at Chennai and my official residence at Delhi. The team showed me an FIR in which I am not named as an accused. The search team found nothing and seized nothing. I may point out that the timing of the search is interesting." The reports say that his notion of 'timing of the search is interesting' has come when he has been eyeing getting elected to the Rajya Sabha from Tamil Nadu as his current term ends soon.