Peter and Indrani Mukerjea. (PTI)
The UK has frozen foreign accounts allegedly belonging to Peter and Indrani Mukerjea in connection with a money laundering and corruption probe case against them. Government sources said authorities based in London have informed Indian investigating agencies about the freezing of certain bank accounts related to the former media baron couple. They said the United Kingdom (UK) authorities took the action subsequent to some Letters Rogatories (LRs) sent to them. It is understood, they said, that the LRs were sent by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) after consultations with the CBI, in connection with its probe against the duo, INX media and others. LRs is the synonym for judicial requests that are sent to seek information from a foreign country to take forward a criminal probe against an Indian entity. The freezing of accounts was a result of increasing mutual cooperation between the two countries in matters of fight against black money and tax evasion, they said. The exact amount lying in these frozen accounts could not be immediately ascertained. The ED had recently filed a criminal case against the Mukerjea couple, INX media and others under various sections of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA).
They said the freezing of assets would help the probe agencies in taking their investigation forward and subsequently also seek attachment or seizure of these funds under Indian laws. They said a probe had found these accounts receiving funds from various foreign shores. As part of the PMLA case, the ED had also booked Karti Chidambaram, son of former finance minister P Chidambaram and others apart from the Mukerjeas’, after taking cognisance of a recent CBI FIR against them. The CBI, last month, had carried out searches at the homes and offices of Karti across four cities for allegedly receiving money from the media firm (INX media) owned by the Mukerjeas’ to scuttle a tax probe.
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The Chidambarams’ had denied all the charges made against them. The CBI had filed its FIR against Karti and the Mukerjeas’ on charges of criminal conspiracy, cheating, receiving illegal gratification, influencing public servants and criminal misconduct. Karti allegedly received money from INX Media for “using his influence” to manipulate a tax probe against it in a case of violation of Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) conditions to receive investment from Mauritius.