New Delhi : The Central Bureau of Investigation on Tuesday booked a case of cheating, criminal conspiracy and Prevention of Corruption Act against NDTV directors and promoters Prannoy Roy, Radhika Roy and CCOE Vikramaditya Chandra.
The CBI has accused the NDTV promoters of floating multiple companies in tax haven countries. It alleged that the proceeds of corruption of unknown public servants were invested through NDTV Ltd. The CBI alleged that the NDTV promoters had entered into criminal conspiracies with unknown public servants with the object of bringing tainted money of civil servants through a web of complex transactions through the FDI route.
Pranay Roy and others incorporated NDTV in September 1988. Prannoy Roy, Radhika Roy, and Narayan KVL Reddy, a retired IRS officer have been named as whole-time directors.
From May 2004 to May 2010, NDTV floated around 32 subsidiary firms all over the world, mostly in tax haven countries like Holland, UK, Dubai, Malaysia and Mauritius. The CBI said in the FIR, “Majority of these companies had no business transactions and were meant only for financial transactions to bring funds from abroad.”
CBI alleged that all these transactions were sham and unknown public servants invested funds through NDTV and later laundered back to India through multiple layers of complex transactions and shell companies.
NDTV incorporated Network PLC in London in November 2006, and it has received an investment to the tune of 20 million USD through the issue of 25,575 convertible preference shares together with 2,558 warrants from Fuse Media Holding LP in March 2007 for 4.5 per cent to 5 per cent effective stake.
NNPLC raised fresh funds amounting to 100 million USD through Jefferies International by the issue of step-up coupon convertible bonds in May 2007. In transactions, Jefferies International had received 5.5 million USD as commission. NNPLC transferred Rs 193 crore to various subsidiary companies of NDTV group like NDT imagine, NDTV lifestyle limited, NDTV emerging Market BV, NDTV Convergence Limited and NDTV Labs limited.
NDTV incorporated another company in Netherlands in 2008 in the name of NDTV International Holding BV to raise funds of 150 million USD from an NBCU, a subsidiary of General Electric USA. NBCU transferred an amount of 150 million USD from the account of its subsidiary Universal Studios International BV Netherlands in 2008 May.
CBI alleged that by investing the amount in NBCU in NDTV International Holdings, NBCU acquired 26 per cent indirect shareholding in NNPLC. The amount was further transferred to subsidiaries of NDTV Ltd incorporated in Mauritius and London and finally the amount was received by subsidiaries of NDTV like NDTV Imagine Ltd, NDTV Lifestyle, NDTV Lab, NDTV convergence, NDTV NGEN and NDTV Studio incorporated in India.
An investment of 100 million USD against step up convertible bonds was repaid to the respective investor by the NDTV in the ration by asking a payment of 72.4 million USD in November 2008.
The investment of 150 million USD by NBCU who had acquired 26 per cent shareholding in NNPLC has been settled by buying back the share of NDTV Network International Holding BV Netherlands from NBCU after making the payment of 1.2 crore USD to Universal Studio BV in 2009.
The CBI alleged that NNPLC London got approval from FIPB board in violation of laid down Foreign Director Investment provision worth 130 to 160 million dollars. NNPLC London received total FDI worth 163 million US dollars till September 2008. It invested the amount in various subsidiaries of NDTV through a web of complex transactions.