The ongoing Saradha scam in Bengal that has engulfed many members of the
ruling Trinamool Congress has now extended its reach beyond the state. Earlier,
it was let out that the CBI had questioned former finance minister, P
Chidambaram’s lawyer wife, Nalini Chidambaram, allegedly regarding a Rs 1 crore
payment made to her by the Chit Fund companies.
However, in a letter written by Commissioner Income Tax, S K Srivastava
to Ms Sumana Bala Sahoo, Jt Director, CBI, Kolkata, he has alleged that the
actual payments made to Nalini Chidambaram amount to more than Rs 50 crores and
that she was a conduit for the actual beneficiary, (the then) Finance Minister
P Chidambaram. This payment was made so that Chidambaram would ensure that
there would be no inquiry into the money laundering activities of the chit-fund
Srivastava says that the amount of Rs 50 crores has already been
collated by the investigating officer of the West Bengal Police and is also
mentioned in the case diary of the same investigating officer. This fact can be
corroborated by the records available at the Bidhannagar Police Commissionerate.
Even the amount of Rs 1 crore as ‘consultancy fees’ amounted to 2.5 per
cent of the whole transaction. This kind of fee is highly inflated considering
that the total value of the transaction amounted to Rs 40 crores.
Nalini Chidambaram is a lawyer who practices mostly in the Chennai area.
She advises on IT issues there. She has no offices in Calcutta or even Orissa.
To suddenly have her render IT advice in Kolkata on a trivial issue inevitably
raises questions. More so when the advice is rendered to a client who is in the
middle of a multi-crore scam of siphoning off investors money in a ponzi scheme
in West Bengal and the chit fund company in question has no connection to
The scam had been brewing for a long time and according to Srivastava,
it is impossible for the IT department to miss the fact that there was a large
scale siphoning of money by chit fund companies and their directors and the
resultant money laundering happening around the scam, since both the Assessment
Wing and the Investigation Wing are perfectly capable of monitoring such
Nalini Chidambaram has to maintain audited ‘Books of Accounts’ and
required Balance Sheet of her financials. A study of this Balance Sheet will
give a clear idea of the kinds of clients and the kind of fees that she
receives from each and the specific services that she renders in return for
those fees. Shrivastav says, one will also need to check Nalini Chidambaram’s accounts
to see whether she charges other clients similar amounts for such kinds of
advice. This will allow us to compare whether this remuneration is logical or
Another facet to this whole issue is the activities of P Chidambaram,
the then finance minister. He is reputed to micro manage such controversial
issues and ensure that the cases move as per his directions. He was reputed to
call IT Commissioners to his office and render oral orders over pending cases.
As per Shrivastav, some of his questionable activities include
attempting to bail out Nokia in a case of money laundering and tax evasion to
the tune of Rs 10,000 crores. When the official concerned asked for the orders
in writing, the illegal orders were withdrawn and he was asked to treat the
matter as closed. In the Moin Qureshi case, the IT department investigated the
laundering of Rs 157 crores but has refused to investigate the Chit Fund scam
that was worth many more crores.
Srivastava alleges that Chidambaram may consider Rs 50 crores to be a
paltry sum but then Chidambaram is known to take ‘good care’ of any case that
adds up to his turn-over.
Srivastava has requested the CBI to investigate the payment of Rs 50
crores to Chidambaram made by the Chit Fund companies through the offices of
his wife, Nalini Chidambaram which was made in return for blocking of
investigation into the large-scale scam of money laundering that the Chit Fund
companies have indulged in. Srivastava has also offered to assist the CBI in
Srivastava has put his neck on the line and accused Chidambaram of fraud
and hindering investigations in many high profile cases which concern illegal
activities done by corporations. It remains to be seen if the can of worms that
he has opened will be cleaned by the CBI and the IT department or not.
Posted on 8th October 2014