The Enforcement Directorate has attached assets worth ₹122.15 crore of Deccan Chronicle Holdings Limited (DCHL), two of its former promoters, T. Venkatram Reddy and T. Vinayakravi Reddy, and a benami firm allegedly floated by them. The total attachment in the case now stands at ₹264.56 crore.
The 14 properties attached under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) are located in Delhi, Gurugram, Hyderabad, Chennai, Bengaluru and other places. “All these attached assets are not covered under the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) process,” the agency said in a release on Friday.
The agency said the total loan fraud allegedly committed by DCHL and its promoters was estimated to be ₹8,180 crore. DCHL is currently under the Corporate Insolvency Resolution Process (CIRP), in which a resolution plan for only ₹400 crore has been approved by the NCLT.
The ED probe was initiated in 2015, based on six FIRs and the corresponding chargesheets filed by the Central Bureau of Investigation. The SEBI has also filed a prosecution against DCHL.
According to the agency, the three promoters of DCHL — P. K. Iyer, Mr. Venkatram Reddy and Mr. Vinayakravi Reddy — manipulated the company’s balance sheets to inflate profits-advertisement revenue and grossly under-stated its financial liabilities for years to cheat the banks and its shareholders.
Over the years, DCHL availed itself of credit facilities to the tune of more than ₹15,000 crore. Most of the loans were cyclically rotated into group companies and diverted to repay previous borrowings, as alleged.
The accused promoters received hefty kickbacks from the investment made by DCHL in Odyssey at highly inflated values.
The agency alleged that despite the initiation of CIRP process, the accused promoters and their close family members continued to wield indirect control over the print media and were working in senior capacities, drawing large salaries.
“The promoters were also found to be re-purchasing the mortgaged assets at discounted rates through private treaties by using concealed proceeds of crime through front company,” the ED said.