The Central Bureau of Investigation has filed charges against five people, including private persons in Chennai and Mumbai, private corporations in Mumbai and Mansa (Punjab), and anonymous governmental personnel and private individuals. Among those charged is Congress leader Karti P Chidambaram.
According to the CBI, the case was filed on many charges, including bribery to assist the issue of a visa to a Chinese business that exceeded the limit. S Bhaskararaman (close associate) headquartered in Chennai, Vikas Makharia, representing a private firm based in Mansa (Punjab), M/s Talwandi Sabo Power Limited, Mansa (Punjab), M/s Bell Tools Limited, Mumbai (Maharashtra), and other unnamed public servant(s) and private person (s).
“It has been alleged that the private company based at Mansa was in the process of establishing a 1980 MW thermal power plant at Mansa (Punjab) and establishing of the plant was outsourced to a Chinese Company. It has been further alleged that the project was running behind its schedule. In order to avoid penal actions for the delay, the said private company of Mansa was trying to bring more and more Chinese persons/professionals for their site at District Mansa (Punjab) and needed Project VISAs over and above the ceiling imposed by the Ministry of Home Affairs,” the security agency said in a press release.
According to the CBI, the representative of the said private company approached a person based in Chennai via his close associate/frontman, and they then devised a back-door way to defeat the purpose of the ceiling (maximum number of Project VISAs permissible to the company’s plant) by granting permission to re-use 263 Project VISAs allotted to the said Chinese company’s officials.
“It has been alleged that in pursuance of the same, the said representative of Mansa-based private company submitted a letter to Ministry of Home Affairs seeking approval to re-use the Project VISAs allotted to this company, which was approved within a month, and permission was issued to the company. A bribe of Rs. 50 Lakh was allegedly demanded by said private person based in Chennai through his close associate/Frontman which was paid by the said Mansa based private company,” the release stated.
According to the release, the payment of said bribe was routed from Mansa based private company to said private person of Chennai and his close associate/Frontman through a Mumbai based company as payment of false invoice raised for Consultancy and out of pocket expenses for Chinese VISAs related works, despite the fact that the private company based in Mumbai was never in any kind of work relating to VISAs rather it was in an entirely different industry.
According to the CBI, searches are being undertaken today at around ten locations, including Chennai, Mumbai, Koppal (Karnataka), Jharsuguda (Odisha), Mansa (Punjab), and Delhi.
The inquiry is proceeding, and further information is anticipated.