Millennium Post

No one from my family could have influenced FIPB: PC

Senior Congress leader P Chidambaram today said it was "preposterous" to suggest that any member of his family could influence six secretaries of the central government who were part of the FIPB.
Strongly refuting allegations that his son Karti had influenced the decisions of the now-defunct Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) when he was the finance minister, Chidambaram said it was a "despicable slur" on the six secretaries of the government.

The FIPB used to vet FDI proposals requiring government approval.

The former finance minister said any one familiar with the working of the FIPB knows that no single officer could take a decision on any proposal and it was a collective decision of six secretaries.

"Any one 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," he said in a statement.

It was therefore, he said, "preposterous" to suggest that a member of his family, with or without his 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.

The CBI last fortnight had filed an FIR against Karti and INX Media founders Indrani and Peter Mukerjea on charges of criminal conspiracy, cheating, receiving illegal gratification, influencing public servants and criminal misconduct.
The CBI claims that Karti received money from INX Media through a company "indirectly controlled by him" for using his influence to manipulate a tax probe against it in a case of violation of FIPB conditions to receive investment from Mauritius.

The Congress leader said the subject matter of the FIR was an approval granted by the FIPB and it was clear that he was the target, yet the FIR did not name him.

The former finance minister said as far as FIPB cases were concerned, he had approved only those cases that were recommended by the FIPB and put up to him by the secretary, economic affairs.

Chidambaram said the FIPB was serviced by a secretariat and chaired by the secretary, economic affairs and 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.

The Congress leader said 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, he said.

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 D Subba Rao, IAS, who later became the Governor of RBI. He was succeeded by Ashok Chawla, IAS, who later became Chairman of the Competition Commission of India. The other secretaries were equally distinguished civil servants," he said.

Chidambaram said in the last two weeks, leaks and insinuations have been "deliberately fed" to a section of the media and "maliciously circulated" in the social media.
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