Zee Responds to The Wire's Story on Nityank Infrapower

While Zee Entertainment denied connections to the alleged transactions, the Essel Group noted it had received queries from SFIO in July/August 2018.

New Delhi: Zee Entertainment Enterprises Ltd, in various statements put out on Sunday, has noted that it has no connection to the “alleged transactions” published in The Wire’s story last week.

The Essel group has also noted that “all queries relating to demonetisation, if any, from SFIO were directed to Nityank and that all the information/documents relating to certain transactions sought by SFIO were provided”.

“Information / documents relating to certain transactions were sought by SFIO – the investigating agency in July/August 2018 from certain Essel Group entities and requisIte Information / documents were provided,” the statement notes.

“Since all information sought by SFIO has been provided by Essel Group and no further information has been subsequently sought, the matter stands closed for Essel Group entities,” it added.

The company has also added it has filed a legal case against The Wire which has “maliciously attempted to establish a linkage between the SFIO’s investigation and ZEE Entertainment Enterprises Ltd’s promoters”.

The Wire responds:

Our examination of publicly available corporate and legal documents did not conclude with the allegation that the Essel Group had engaged in money laundering or that it had made demonetisation deposits that were being probed by the SFIO.

As the story notes, Nityank Infrapower (formerly Dreamline Manpower) is the firm under investigation for fraud and alleged deposits made just after demonetisation.

Our reportage shows that Nityank, a largely dormant company with minimal business activity until 2016, had two business links (in 2015 and 2016) to certain firms associated with the Essel Group.

The first is through an LLP called Lemonade Capital Advisers, which extended a loan or advance of a little over Rs 1,000 crore to Churu Enterprises LLP in 2015-16. In the year ended March 31, 2016, the majority of Churu’s partners included entities associated with the Essel Group. Essel has stated that it is unaware of any transaction between Lemonade and Nityank.

The second link is the role that Nityank allegedly played in the Videocon D2H-Dish TV merger. The Videocon Group has alleged that Nityank is associated with Essel and was used as a vehicle for an advance payment whereby the Dhoots would sell their shares in Videocon D2H at a predetermined price to Essel.

The Wire’s reportage indicated that the SFIO’s probe into Nityank had also raised queries about the role that the firm may have played in the merger.

A statement put out by DishTV on Sunday confirmed that it had received a communication request in July 2018 from the SFIO “seeking info relating to Nityank Infrapower and Multiventures Ltd.”Dish TV has denied that it had any transaction with Nityank or that the SFIO’s request had anything to do with demonetisation.

In an interview to ETNOW, Dish TV boss Jawahar Goel, when asked about Nityank, is quoted as referring to the company as “known people”. Goel also added that the bank loan (in the context of the Videocon transaction) had been “very well explained” and that the SFIO was “about to close the inquiry”.

Our story ends with the lines: “And, finally, if Nityank is being probed for the deposits it made during demonetisation, how much scrutiny should be placed on the transactions it helped carry out in 2015 to 2017? This is a question only the SFIO can answer.”

The Wire stands by its story and will fight any case that is filed.