The CBI on Tuesday refuted allegations of a “witch-hunt” and “a political attack on the freedom of the press”, and released a statement detailing the raids against NDTV.
The statement mentions about the “wrongful gain” made by the promoters of NDTV that arose from “their collusion and criminal conspiracy”.
The statement says the case was registered “based on the complaint of a shareholder of ICICI bank and NDTV after carrying out due diligence” and that it “fully respects the freedom of press and is committed to the free functioning of news operations”.
Here is the full text of CBI statement:
'Reports in sections of the media have raised certain issues and the statement issued by NDTV has levelled certain allegations against the CBI investigation in the case relating to the promoters of NDTV and others.
It is clarified that searches have been carried out at the premises of the promoters and their offices based on search warrants issued by the Competent Court. CBI has not conducted any search of registered office of NDTV, media studio, news room or premises connected with media operations. CBI fully respects the freedom of press and is committed to the free functioning of news operations.
CBI has registered the case based on the complaint of a share holder of ICICI bank and NDTV after carrying out due diligence. Denigrating the allegations at this stage of investigation and wrongly accusing the agency of acting under pressure is uncalled for and an attempt to malign the image of the CBI. The investigation is being conducted as per the due process of law and under the jurisdiction of the Court of law. The result of investigation will be filed before the competent Court of law based on the evidence adduced during investigation.
It has been mentioned in the statement of NDTV that NDTV and its promoters have never defaulted on any loan. The allegations under investigation are not regarding the default in loan repayment; but relate to the wrongful gain of ₹ 48 crore to the promoters — Dr. Prannoy Roy, Smt Radhika Roy, M/s RRPR Holdings Pvt Ltd and a corresponding wrongful loss to the ICICI bank arising from their collusion and criminal conspiracy.
It is alleged in the complaint that the promoters of NDTV —Dr. Prannoy Roy, Smt Radhika Roy and M/s RRPR Holdings Pvt Ltd, acting in criminal conspiracy with unknown officials of ICICI bank, violated section 19(2) of the Banking Regulation Act, the Master Circular DBOD No. Dir B90/13.07.05/98-99 dated 28.08.1998 of the Reserve Bank of India and in furtherance of the conspiracy, ICICI bank took the entire shareholding of the promoters in NDTV (nearly 61 %) as collateral and then accepted prepayment of the loan by reducing the interest rate from 19 % p.a to nearly 9.5 % p.a and as a consequence thereof, causing a wrongful loss of ₹48 crore to ICICI bank and a corresponding wrongful gain to the promoters of NDTV — Dr. Prannoy Roy, Smt Radhika Roy and M/s RRPR Holdings Pvt Ltd.
NDTV in its statement questions the jurisdiction of CBI by stating that ICICI is a private bank. It is clarified that the Honourable Supreme Court in the case of Ramesh Gelli vs CBI of 2016, held that the provisions of Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988 are applicable to the officials of private banks. Therefore, CBI has jurisdiction to take up investigation of the cases of private banks.
We urge all concerned to exercise restraint and to cooperate with the investigation. CBI is committed to carrying out the investigation expeditiously and in accordance with the due process of law. CBI reiterates its commitment to the motto i.e. Industry, Impartiality and Integrity.
It is requested that the full text of the above clarification may please be telecast in your channel at the earliest / published prominently in tomorrow’s newspaper.