Central Bureau of India (CBI) has summoned lawyer Nalini Chidambaram, wife of former Finance Minister P Chidambaram to appear before it on Thursday in connection with her alleged involvement in the multi-crore Saradha chit fund scam. A fax message was sent to Nalini to appear before the CBI regional headquarters at the CGO complex in Salt Lake for grilling. In 2010, Nalini was the legal advisor of Manoranjana Sinh, ex-wife of former Union Minister Matan Sinh, both in jail for their alleged involvement in the Saradha scam.
Manoranjana had signed a contract with Saradha group chairman Sudipto Sen, who too has been in jail since 2013, for starting a newspaper and a television channel in the Northeast region. Before fleeing to Kashmir valley in April 2013, Sudipto in his written complaint to the anti-corruption unit of the CBI here had said: ‘Manoranjana Sinh took me to Chennai to the chamber of Nalini Chidambaram, who was her advocate. Madam Chidambaram asked me to help her (Manoranjana) by giving 42 crores to set up a television channel in the Northeast. ‘She drafted the agreement and became the arbitrator for any future dispute. She fixed her fees at 1 crore and whenever she visited Kolkata along with Manoranjana, her travel and stay at Taj group of hotels was borne by me, which is a huge amount.’
‘During our meetings, Manoranjana also said that madam Chidambaram was the wife of then Union Home Minister and that if the Chidambaram family slightly stood by me I will enjoy great clout in India. Though Madam Chidambaram never assured it, she pressured me to pay 42 crores, but I paid 25 crores,’ he wrote.
CBI officials suspect that Nalini might be the recipient of the money Sudipto had collected illegally. She not only took 1 core as her fees, but also 35 lakh for drafting the agreement. As a lawyer, she could certainly take fees and it was not a crime, but she was well aware of Sudipto collecting money illegally, a CBI official said.
He informed that Saradha groups’ legal advisor Naresh Bhalotia was also arrested as he had advised and guided Sudipto how to dupe ordinary people and raise money from the public.
On the same lines Nalini too was guilty as she told Sudipto to pay 25 crores to Manoranjana knowing that there were notices from the SEBI to the Saradha group to stop raising funds, he said.