A new FIR has been filed by the CBI against Prannoy Roy, his wife, Radhika Roy, and former CEO of NDTV, Vikram Chandra in a case related to money laundering. It is alleged that the accused violated Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) rules.
The FIR has been accessed by OpIndia.com. As per the FIR, it is a case of tax evasion and how certain income tax officers colluded with them to help them evade justice. It is further alleged that the accused floated subsidiaries in tax haven destinations to route foreign funds to India through sham transactions. It is also alleged that the proceeds of corruption of unknown public servants were invested in NDTV.
The FIR alleges that NDTV incorporated Network PLC (NNPLC) in London on 30.11.2006. The FIR states “M/s NNPLC raised fresh funds amounting to USD 100 million through M/s Jefferies lnternational by the issue of step-up coupon convertible bonds in May 2007. ln this transaction M/s Jefferies lnternational had received USD 5.5 Million as commission. M/s NNPLC transferred Rs. 193,98,44,3251- to various subsidiary companies of NDTV Group viz. NDTV imagine Ltd., NDTV LifeStyle Limited, NDTV Emerging Market BV, NDTV Convergence Ltd. & NDTV Labs Limited.”
In the Netherlands, NDTV allegedly floated a company called NDTV lnternational Holding BV on 10th April 2008 in order to raise funds to the tune of $150 million from NBCU, a subsidiary of General Electric (GE) the USA. By investing the said amount in NDTV International Holding, it is alleged that NBCU acquired a 26% indirect shareholding in NNPLC. It is further alleged, “The said amount was further transferred to subsidiaries of NDTV Ltd. incorporated in Mauritius & London & finally the said amount was received in subsidiaries of M/s NDTV such NDTV lmagine Ltd., NDTV Lifestyle, NDry Lab, NDTV convergence, NDTV NGEN and NDTV studio incorporated in India.”
Charges of criminal conspiracy, cheating and corruption have been slapped on the accused. The FIR states, “M/s NDTV Ltd. through its promoters viz. Sh. Prannoy Roy and Mrs Radhika Roy, Sh. KVL Naryanan Rao (since expired), Sh. Vikramaditya Chandra had entered into a criminal conspiracy with unknown public servants with the object of bringing tainted money of unknown public servants through a web of complex transactions through the FDI route. 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 the commission of cognizable offences under Indian Criminal Laws.”
The FIR states that NNPLC, London got approval from the FIPB board in violation of the existing FDI provisions. Furthermore, the said amount was invested in various subsidiaries of NDTV through a network of a complex transaction. A case has been registered against NDTV, Prannoy Roy, Radhika Roy and Vikram Chandra and unknown public servants under sections 120-B IPC r/w 420lPC and Sec 13(2) r/w 13 (1) (d) of PC Act, 1988.
Recently, Prannoy and Radhika Roy were prevented from leaving the country. In a statement, NDTV had called it a subversion of press freedom. There are other grave allegations against the Roys, an FIR was filed against them in June 2017 in the ICICI Loan Fraud Case. The details of the case can be read here.