Why is Telugu daily Andhra Prabha, India Ahead channel MD Goutham Mootha under ED lens

By Coreena Suares  Published on  12 Oct 2022 9:00 AM GMT
Why is Telugu daily Andhra Prabha, India Ahead channel MD Goutham Mootha under ED lens

Hyderabad: A day after Hyderabad businessman Boinpally Abhishek Rao was arrested by the Central Bureau of Investigation in the Delhi Liquor Policy scam, Enforcement Directorate summoned Goutham Mootha, Managing Director of the reputed Telugu daily `Andhra Prabha' and English news channel `India Ahead'. Sources said Goutham Mootha is being questioned for 'crime of proceeds' linked to Zeus Networking Private limited.

CBI, however, has neither booked Goutham Mootha nor has his role been established so far. However, on October 4, sleuths of the Enforcement Directorate carried out searches at the Andhra Prabha office in Jubilee hills and seized financial documents.

Andhra Prabha is one of the leading Telugu dailies in Telangana and the group's news channel `India Ahead' is based in New Delhi.

Why is Goutham Mootha being probed?

'Zeus Networking Private Limited-a company based in Hyderabad and Delhi, was incorporated in May 2010. It is basically an IT company that deals with the maintenance of other firms' websites and creating multimedia presentations for other firms, etc.

Here comes the connection, Zeus Networking Private Limited has two directors -- Goutam Mootha and Boinpally Abhishek Rao. According to the financial records, Boinpally Abhishek Rao is the longest-serving director. He was appointed on October 6, 2021. However, Goutham Mootha joined the company in 2022. He was appointed director on February 11, 2022.

Goutam Mootha is also a director of 10 companies. In total, the company is connected to 17 other companies through its directors.

"Sleuths of Enforcement Directorate issued summons to Goutham Mootha. The probe has found the 'crime of proceeds' which is linked to Zeus Networking Private limited," Sources in the investigating agency told NewsMeter.

Why is Goutham Mootha's connection with Abhishek Rao crucial?

Investigation into the Delhi Liquor Policy Scam has revealed that Boinpally Abhishek Rao had collected Rs 3.85 crore from co-accused Sameer Mahendru to pay a `commission' to the government officials. The money was supposed to be routed through his ghost company 'Robin Distribution'.

Sameer Mahendru has been arrested by Enforcement Directorate. Sources said the alleged commission was to be routed through suitcase company 'Robin distribution' to government servants in Delhi.

Boinpally Abhishek Rao, a confidant of a top TRS leader and a business partner of another co-accused in the Delhi Liquor policy Scam Arun Ramachandra Pillai, is currently under CBI custody.

Abhishek and Arun Ramachandra Pillai are co-directors of Robin Distribution. Robin Distribution LLP Company, which was incorporated in July 2022, has the exact address of a beauty parlor in Secunderabad.

The address mentioned in the official documents is that of a beauty salon. This indicates that it is a ghost company. Investigation reveals Robin Distribution LLP is just a ghost company that only exists on paper.

Arun Ramchandra Pillai, a resident of Kokapet in Hyderabad, is among the 16 booked by the CBI. He reportedly was a courier who used to collect 'undue pecuniary advantage' (money) from Sameer Mahendru (co-accused) of Indo Spirit and give it to the accused public servant through Vijay Nair.

Boinpally( son of one of the sisters of Anoos Beauty Parlour) was lobbying for several liquor barons. "Abhishek was questioned on his association with Sameer Mahendru. He was called by the CBI- Delhi unit on Sunday for questioning and was later arrested on the same evening. CBI's probe found that Abhishek Rao was acting as a south lobby and committed irregularities through cartelization. He accepted Rs 3.85 Crore from Sameer. In his defence, he cited it as a loan", sources told NewsMeter.

So far the CBI had arrested Boinpally Abhishek Rao and Vijay Nair, former CEO of M/s Only Much Louder, an entertainment company, and the Enforcement Directorate has arrested Sameer Mahendru, Managing Director Indospirit Group- Delhi.

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