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CBI books fresh case against NDTV, Roys for allegedly violating FDI rules

Prannoy Roy. File

Prannoy Roy. File  

Former NDTV CEO and unknown Income-Tax Department officials are among those named in the FIR.

The Central Bureau of Investigation has registered a fresh case against NDTV Limited, its promoters Prannoy Roy and Radhika Roy and others for alleged FDI rule violation and routing of tainted money of unknown public servants through shell firms.

In its response, the company on Wednesday said: “Despite a series of cases in which the investigation is deliberately stalled, agencies have found no evidence of any corruption by NDTV. Prannoy and Radhika Roy, the founders of NDTV, as also the company, have cooperated in all matters filed against them.”

Alleging continued persecution of the free press, NDTV said the new case had been filed about a $150-million investment in its non-news business by NBCU, then owned by U.S.-based General Electric.

Ludicrous charge

“The case makes the ludicrous charge that the transaction, declared to all relevant authorities in the U.S. and India, laundered money for unknown public servants,” the company said, expressing faith in the Indian judiciary.

Among those accused in the FIR are the then NDTV CEO and director Vikramaditya Chandra, whose premises was searched on Wednesday, and unknown Income-Tax Department officials.

The FIR is based on a preliminary enquiry into the allegations. The agency said that between 2004 and 2010, NDTV floated around 32 subsidiary firms all over the world, “mostly in tax havens viz. Holland, UK, Dubai, Malaysia, Mauritius, etc.”

It was alleged that a majority of these companies had no business transactions and they were meant only for bringing funds from abroad. The funds were allegedly invested by unknown public servants through NDTV and later laundered back to India via multiple layers of complex transactions and shell firms, the CBI alleged.

The FIR states that in November 2006, NDTV incorporated Network PLC (NNPLC) in London. It received $20 million through issue of preference shares and warrants from Fuse Media Holding LP in March 2007. NNPLC raised another $100 million through Jefferies International, after which about ₹194 crore was transferred to various NDTV group subsidiaries.

Another company, NDTV International Holding BV, was set up in Netherlands in April 2008 for raising $150 million from NBCU, through its subsidiary Universal Studios International BV in May 2008. The amount was transferred to NDTV subsidiaries in Mauritius and London and then to those in India, the agency said.

The $100-million investment was repaid to the respective investors in November 2008 and that of $150 million, received from NBCU, was settled by buying back NDTV Network International Holding shares in October 2009.

It is alleged that NNPLC got FIPB approval for investments in violation of FDI provisions, after which it received $163.43 million till September 2009.

The CBI had earlier registered a case against the Roys and others in connection with an alleged ₹48-crore loss to ICICI Bank.

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Printable version | May 31, 2020 1:59:56 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/fresh-case-against-ndtv-roys-for-fdi-rules-violation/article29201891.ece

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