New Delhi: The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has registered a fresh case of “criminal conspiracy and cheating” against NDTV founders Prannoy and Radhika Roy and former channel CEO Vikram Chandra.
The FIR, which was registered two days ago, claims that the money raised by the TV channel between 2004 and 2010 was done with the “object of bringing tainted money of unknown public servants through a web of complex transactions”.
“During the period from May 2004 to May 2010, M/s NDTV Ltd. floated around 32 subsidiary firms all over the world, mostly in tax havens viz. Holland, UK, Dubai, Malaysia, Mauritius, etc. Majority of these companies had no business transaction and they were meant only for financial transactions to bring funds from abroad,” the CBI’s FIR notes.
“lt is alleged that these transactions are sham transactions and the aforementioned funds are invested by unknown Public Servants through NDTV Ltd. and later laundered back to India through multiple layers of complex transactions and shell companies. Proceeds of corruption of unknown public servants was invested through NDTV Ltd,” it adds.
The case, however, does not name any of these public servants or why it believes the investment is “tainted” money.
The investigative agency also claims that a London-based NDTV-promoted company called Network PLC (NNPLC) received approval from the Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) for investing amounts worth up to $160 million into the channel in violation of foreign direct investment (FDI) norms.
“The aforesaid acts of omission & commission on the part of Sh. Prannoy Roy, Smt. Radhika Roy, Sh. Vikramaditya Chandra & Sh. KVL Naryanan Rao and unknown public servants & others prima facie disclose commission of cognisable offences under Indian Criminal Laws,” the FIR notes.
NDTV put out a statement saying that “agencies have found no evidence of any corruption” and that the founder of 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.”