Dozens of officers from the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) scaled the walls of Chidambaram’s house in India’s capital, New Delhi, before taking him away in a car late on Wednesday, the Press Trust of India reported.
His supporters tried to prevent the arrest by jumping onto the car, according to a video posted on Twitter by the ANI news agency.
Abhishek Dayal, a spokesman for the CBI, confirmed the arrest to the Associated Press news agency.
Earlier on Wednesday, the CBI had alerted airports to prevent the 73-year-old Chidambaram from leaving the country.
The CBI has accused Chidambaram, finance minister from 2004-2008 and again from 2012-2014, of abusing his official position and involvement in money laundering in clearing foreign direct investments worth tens of millions of dollars.
His son, Karti Chidambaram, has already been named as a defendant in the money-laundering case involving three billion rupees ($43m).
Chidambaram, a member of the opposition Congress Party, has denied any wrongdoing and accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi‘s government of pursuing a “political vendetta” against him.
Modi’s Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party came to power after defeating a Congress party government in 2014 and won a second term in 2019 national elections.
Chidambaram was taken into custody a day after the Delhi High Court rejected his application to seek exemption from arrest. His lawyers approached the Supreme Court to prevent his arrest and the top court is due to hear his petition on Friday.
Investigators could not find him until Wednesday evening, when he unexpectedly appeared at the Congress party headquarters for a news conference.
He appealed to officials to wait until Friday for a ruling by the top court, and called his accusers “pathological liars”.
Teams of CBI officials then rushed to the Congress party’s headquarters and later his home in the Jor Bagh neighbourhood to arrest him.