The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has registered new case against NDTV promoters Prannoy Roy, Radhika Roy, and others for allegedly violating foreign direct investment (FDI) rules in a 2007-2009 investment.
The investigating agency has also registered an FIR against the then CEO Vikramaditya Chandra as well as unidentified government officials on charges of criminal conspiracy, cheating and corruption, it was stated today. A CBI team today conducted searches at Chandra’s residence.
According to reports, the CBI is investigating the investments made by NCBU, a General Electric company at the time, in Network PLC (NNPLC), an NDTV company incorporated in London on 30 November, 2006.
The reports add that the CBI has alleged that NNPLC in 2009 got approval from the Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) in violation of FDI rules. It said that the NNPLC received total FDI worth $163.43 million and invested the amount in various NDTV subsidiaries through shady transactions.
In a statement issued today, NDTV has refuted the CBI’s allegations. “Despite a series of cases in which the investigation is deliberately stalled, agencies have found no evidence of any corruption by NDTV,” the NDTV statement said.
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The TV company indicated in its statement that it is being punished for its journalistic work which is critical of the government. “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,” it said in the statement.
It is alleged that to evade tax, during May 2004 to May 2010, NDTV floated around 32 subsidiary firms mostly in the tax havens of Holland, the United Kingdom, Dubai, Malaysia, and Mauritius.
The CBI said most of these companies allegedly had no business transaction and were meant for financial transactions to bring funds from abroad. Terming the transactions a “sham,” according to reports, CBI alleged that funds were invested by unidentified public servants through NDTV and laundered back to India through multiple layers of complex transactions and shell companies.
It also alleged that the proceeds of corruption of unknown public servants was invested through NDTV Ltd.
NDTV denies the allegations in its statement, “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.”
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