CBI Books NDTV Founders For Alleged Corruption, Accuses Roys Of Violating FDI Norms
NDTV’s founders Prannoy Roy, Radhika Roy and former Chief Executive Officer Vikram Chandra were booked by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on August 21 for alleged violation of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) and routing of tainted money of unknown public servants through shell firms.
CBI’s statement read, “It is alleged that these transactions are sham transactions and 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
NDTV on Wednesday issued a statement which read, “ 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.”
What Are The Charges?
The FIR against the then NDTV CEO and Roys is based on a preliminary enquiry which alleged that the company between 2004 and 2010 had floated around 32 shell firms in tax havens all over the world to channel international funds to India, reported The Hindu.
The CBI alleged that unknown public servants invested the funds through NDTV and later laundered it back to the country via multiple layers of complex transactions and shell firms.
According to the FIR, in 2006, NDTV absorbed Network PLC (NNPLC), a company based in London. NDTV received $20 million from Fuse Media Holding LP in 2007. NNPLC later gathered $100 million through Jefferies International. Later, NNPLC transferred Rs 194 crore to various NDTV group subsidiaries. However, the $100 million investment was sent back to the respective investors in 2008.
In 2008, another company named – NDTV International Holding BV was established in the Netherlands to collect $150 million from NBCU, a General Electric company, through its subsidiary Universal International BV. The said amount was channelled to NDTV subsidiaries present in India, London, and Mauritius. The above amount was later settled by buying back NDTV International Holding shares in 2009.
The agency alleged that NNPLC in 2009 got the nod from the Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) board in violation of FDI rules. It is said that NNLPC received FDI worth $163.43 million and invested in various NDTV subsidiaries.
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.
On August 9, Prannoy Roy and his wife were detained at the Mumbai airport and were prevented from leaving the country. At that time also NDTV in a statement had said that the Roys were stopped based on a fake and unsubstantiated corruption case. They had also alleged that the authorities had not informed the Roys or Delhi High Court that they would be detained at the airport.