The CBI in the FIR, registered on Monday night, said NDTV through its promoters Prannoy Roy, Radhika Roy, K.V.L. Naryanan Rao (since expired) and Chandra had entered into a criminal conspiracy with unidentified public servants to park their tainted money in the company….;reports Asian Lite News
The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has registered a case against Prannoy Roy and his wife Radhika Roy, co-founders of New Delhi Television (NDTV), and the company CEO and Director Vikramaditya Chandra for bringing to the listed broadcaster tainted money of unidentified public servants through a web of transactions via the foreign direct investment (FDI) route.
The CBI in the FIR, registered on Monday night, said NDTV through its promoters Prannoy Roy, Radhika Roy, K.V.L. Naryanan Rao (since expired) and Chandra had entered into a criminal conspiracy with unidentified public servants to park their tainted money in the company.
According to FIR, at the time of NDTV’s incorporation on September 8, 1988 the Roy couple and Naryanan Rao (a retired IRS officer) were whole-time directors and Chandra was CEO-cum-whole-time Director.
“During May 2OO4 to 2010, NDTV floated 32 subsidiary firms, mostly in tax havens, like Holland, the UK, Dubai, Malaysia and Mauritius. Majority of them had no business transaction and were meant only for financial transactions to bring funds from abroad,” the FIR said.
Terming them sham transactions, the FIR stated that the funds were invested by unidentified public servants through NDTV and later laundered back to India through multiple layers of transactions and shell companies. “The proceeds of corruption of unknown public servants were invested through NDTV,” the FIR said.
The CBI had initiated preliminary enquiry into the case in 2016 against unidentified income tax officials, the Roy couple, Naryanan Rao and Chandra.
NDTV had also incorporated Network PLC (NNPLC) in London on November 30, 2006. “NNPLC had received $20 million investment through 25,575 convertible preference shares together with 2,558 warrants from Fuse Media Holding in March 2007 for 4.5-5 per cent stake. It raised $100 million fresh funds through Jefferies International via step-up coupon convertible bonds in May 2007.
“In this transaction, Jefferies had received $5.5 million commission. NNPLC transferred Rs 193,98,44,325 to various subsidiaries of NDTV Group — NDTV Imagine, NDTV Life Style, NDTV Emerging Market, NDTV Convergence and NDTV Labs,” the FIR said.
As per the FIR, NDTV incorporated another company in the Netherlands on April 10, 2008 in the name and style of NDTV International Holding for raising $150 million funds from NBCU, a US-based subsidiary of General Electric. NBCU transferred $150 million from the account of its subsidiary Universal Studios International, Netherland, on May 23, 2008.
“By investing the amount in NDTV International Holdings, NBCU acquired 26 per cent indirect share holding in NNPLC. The said amount was further transferred to the subsidiaries of NDTV incorporated in Mauritius and London, and finally it was received by subsidiaries of NDTV Group — NDTV Imagine, NDTV Lifestyle, NDTV Labs, NDTV Convergence, NDTV NGEN and NDTV Studio — incorporated in India,” the FIR said.
The $100 million investment against step-up convertible bonds were repaid to respective investors by NDTV by making a payment of $72.40 million in November 2008.
Similarly, the $150 million investment by NBCU, which had acquired 26 per cent share holding in NNPLC, was settled by buying back share of NDTV Network International Holding, Netherland, from NBCU after making $12,472,750 payment to Universal Studio on October 26, 2009.
The UK-based NNPLC got the FIPB approval for $130-160 million investment in violation of FDI provisions. Subsequently, NNPLC received $163.43 million FDI till September 2009. It later invested the amount in various subsidiaries of NDTV through a web of complex transaction.
The acts of omission and commission on the part of the Roy couple, Chandra and Naryanan Rao, unidentified public servants and others prima facie disclose commission of cognizable offences under the Indian criminal laws, the FIR added.
STATEMENT FROM NDTV
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. As part of the continued persecution of free press, a new CBI case has been filed about a $150 million investment in NDTV’s non-news business by NBCU, then owned by General Electric, a massive American conglomerate. The case makes the ludicrous charge that the transaction, declared to all relevant authorities in the US and India, laundered money for unknown public servants.
NDTV and its founders have full faith in India’s judiciary at this crucial time and remain committed to the integrity of the company’s journalism. Attempts to silence free and fair reportage through malicious and fabricated charges will not succeed. This is not about a company or individuals but about a larger battle to maintain the freedom of the press, something which India has always been renowned for.