Leaks, allegations a ‘slur’ on FIPB secretaries: Chidambaram
In a statement on Monday, the former finance minister categorically states he never allowed any family member to speak to him or to any officer of his ministry on any official matter
Categorically rejecting that his family members influenced senior secretaries in the now-defunct Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB), former finance minister and senior Congress leader P Chidambaram on Monday said that such a charge was a ‘despicable slur’ on the six Secretaries of the government who constituted the FIPB then.
“Anyone 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,” Chidambaram said in a statement.
He was reacting to certain “leaks and insinuations” circulated in sections of the media/ social media on a certain First Information Report (FIR) purportedly on the FIPB approval to INX Media/ INX News. He reiterated that false and baseless charges were being levelled against his son, Karti Chidambaram.
“It is clear that I am the target, yet the FIR does not name me. The FIR alleges that there was a conspiracy involving public officials who were induced by corrupt and illegal means to grant the approval, yet the FIR does not name a single public official,” he said.
“The most ridiculous allegation is that the so-called gratification was a cheque for ₹10 lakh,” he said. The cheque was apparently in favour of a consulting company that had raised an invoice for work done, accounted for the income, and paid income tax on the amount.
“I can say with absolute certainty that Karti Chidambaram had never met any officer connected with the FIPB. Besides, he had no connection with the applicant company (INX Media/INX News),” Chidambaram said.
COLLECTIVE DECISION BY EMINENT BUREAUCRATS
Pointing out that “no single officer” could take decision on any proposal at FIPB, Chidambaram said it was “a collective decision of six Secretaries”.
The FIPB was serviced by a secretariat and was 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. “Each one of them had a long and distinguished record of service,” he said.
Further explaining the process, the former finance minister said that when the FIPB recommendations were submitted to the Finance Ministry, these were again examined by junior officers and then by the Additional Secretary and the Secretary before the file was put up to the Minister.
At the relevant time, the FIPB was chaired by D Subba Rao, who later became the RBI Governor. He was succeeded by Ashok Chawla, who later became Chairman of the Competition Commission of India. The other Secretaries were equally distinguished civil servants, he said.
“Anyone who has worked with me knows that no one would dare to influence my decisions,” Chidambaram said.
“I had never allowed any family member to speak to me or to any officer of my ministry on any official matter. It is therefore preposterous to suggest that a member of my family, with or without my knowledge, influenced, by corrupt or illegal means, the six Secretaries who constituted the FIPB,” he added.
Such an allegation, he said, was a despicable slur on the six Secretaries of the government who constituted the FIPB then.