On April 25, 2017 the Delhi high court directed the CBI to file a status report on the probe in the hotel grabbing case by former Finance Minister P. Chidambaram’s sister-in-law Padmini in collusion with a few officials of Indian Overseas Bank (IOB). The court has asked the CBI to file the status report on or before July 25, 2017.
This is the latest in a series of cases of financial irregularities against former Finance Minister P. Chidambaram and his family that are at various stages of investigation.
A reading of the letter outlines a sordid story of corruption, abuse of power, and criminal intimidation. The hotel in question “Comfort Inn” in Tiruppur was allegedly grabbed by Mrs. Padmini, Mr. Chidambaram’s sister-in-law and his wife Supreme Court lawyer Nalini Chidambaram’s sister.
Dr. Kathirvel who runs several businesses including poultry, education, and real estate comes from a business family and was a partner in Hotel “Comfort Inn”. In his letter to the CBI Director Dr. Kathirvel alleges “Shri Chidambaram’s wife Mrs. Nalini Chidambaram’s sister took over possession of the hotel by force with the help of goondas for which also the Bank officials were party (sic)”
A link to the letter that runs into 82 pages which includes proofs, photographs, and documents is provided at the end of this article.
Below is a summary of this story that showcases the kleptomaniacal streak that seems to run through the Chidambaram family:
In 2005 the Thiuchengodu (Salem, TN) branch of IOB on the request and reference of Dr. Kathirvel advanced a loan of ₹ 2.97 Crores to acquire a half-constructed hotel project “The Comfort Inn” in Tirupur. Subsequent to this, Dr. Kathirvel alleges that attempts were made from 2007 onwards by Bank officials in collusion with Mrs. Nalini Chidambaram (who was representing her sister as legal counsel) and her sister Padmini to compel, coerce, and criminally intimidate Dr. Kathirvel to give up ownership of the hotel in favour of Mrs. Padmini.
Dr. Kathirvel alleges that Mrs. Nalini Chidambaram offered him a draft for ₹ 2.5 Crores in lieu of him giving up his claims on the Hotel. Dr. Kathirvel further claims that the Bank officials also advised him to take up this offer and that they would support him in restructuring all his other loans along with providing additional funding. Dr. Kathirvel claims that he refused this offer as he did not want to submit to criminal intimidation and injustice.
Apparently this refusal to toe the line led to a cascade of precipitating events including a squeezing of the Bank credit line across all his businesses by Bank officials in collusion with Mrs. Nalini Chidambaram and her sister. This led to a delay in construction and completion and defaults in payments that further led to the Bank classifying the loan and accrued outstanding as a Non-performing Asset (NPA) and announcement of auction on December 6, 2007.
Dr. Kathirvel approached the Madras High Court and later the Debt Recovery Tribunal (DRT) and managed to obtain a stay on the proposed auction along with a time-window for payment. On the 5th of December 2007 Dr. Kathirvel met with the then General Manager (Recovery) Mr. R. Krishnan who advised Dr. Kathirvel to clear overdue of ₹ 64 lakhs to have the account regularized and the auction cancelled. This amount was remitted by Dr. Kathirvel the next day.
Dr. Kathirvel complained to the Bank authorities and even wrote to Mr. Chidambaram who was then the Finance Minister in UPA-1. He says he was threatened by the Bank officials warning him to take back his complaints and when he refused they started blackmailing him by sending him loan recovery notices and squeezing his credit lines to other businesses.
Dr. Kathirvel in 2008 wrote to then Finance Minister P. Chidambaram requesting his intervention in the matter. Mr. Chidambaram wrote back to Dr. Kathirvel stating “Your apprehension arises from the fact Mrs. Nalini Chidambaram has appeared as counsel for a private party. Whether your apprehension is justified or not, I have since advised Mrs. Nalini Chidambaram to immediately withdraw from the case and return the brief to the client (private party) I have no legal or moral authority over the private party”.
The private party that Mr. Chidambaram is referring to here is actually his own sister-in-law!
His obfuscation in the matter becomes evident when one learns that Mr. Chidambaram inaugurated the opening ceremony of this very same Hotel as the “ribbon-cutting” Chief Guest on August 13, 2011 when he was heading the Home Ministry in the Union Cabinet of UPA-2.
Dr. Kathirvel has included a copy of a news item showing Mr. Chidambaram inaugurating the opening ceremony of this hotel.
Soon after the NDA came to power in 2014, Dr. Kathirvel approached the Tamil Nadu unit of the CBI but for two years nothing came of it which led to him writing directly to the Director of the CBI in September 2016 alluded to in the beginning of this article. The Delhi High Court that is now seized of the matter has asked the CBI to file a status report on their investigation by July 25, 2017.
In his letter to the CBI director, Dr. Kathirvel specifically mentions the names of P. Chidambaram and his wife Nalini Chidambaram and the errant IOB officers including S.A. Bhat, then GM Legal and Recovery, R. Krishnan, then Thiruchengodu IOB branch manager Palanisamy and then Salem Legal Officer Palanivelu.
Even as this report is being filed reports are emerging of Conversational Transcripts between Mrs. Nalini Chidambaram and Dr. Kathirvel that show how Mrs. Nalini Chidambaram threatened Dr. Kathirvel cautioning him not to scandalize the issue and stating that if it was any other politician (other than her husband, P. Chidambaram) he (Dr. Kathirvel) would be behind bars by now.
As one more case is added to the growing list of cases against the former Finance Minister P. Chidambaram and his family what remains to be seen in this particular case is if justice will not only be done but also be seen to be done.
Link to Copy of letter written by Dr. Kathirvel to the CBI Director:
This article appeared first in Rightlog.in on April 27, 2017 under the title “Former minister Chidambaram’s family is currently grabbing hotels and harassing their owners” Link to the article is here: (Click to read).