Hyderabad: The Central Bureau of Investigation on Monday conducted searches at the office and residences of NDTV founder Prannoy Roy at four places — Delhi, Dehradun and Mussoorie — and recovered documents related to a case of cheating and criminal conspiracy booked against him and his wife and the TV channel.
It has been alleged in the FIR that ICICI bank conspired with promoters of NDTV and facilitated the transfer of ownership of a news broadcasting corporation to a shell company in violation of various regulations. It was alleged that a pecuniary loss of Rs 48 crore has been caused to ICICI bank.
The CBI also alleged in the FIR that Prannoy Roy and Radhika Roy laundered benami funds of Rs 403.85 crore with a malafide objective of creating interest in favour of a benami party to gain covert control of a public listed company.
The FIR has been issued on June 2 under criminal conspiracy, cheating, criminal misconduct and Prevention of Corruption Act by the CBI based on the complaint filed by Sanjay Dutt, Director of Quantum Securities Limited of New Delhi, on April 28 this year.
The complainant said his locus standi in the case is that he is a shareholder of both NDTV and ICICI bank. Quantum alleged in the complaint, “In 2008-09 financial year, NDTV promoters along with RRPR holding made cash/open offer of Rs 438.98 crore to acquire 1.26 crore numbers of fully paid up equity share of Rs 4 each representing 20 per cent of the Resulting Voting Share Capital offer of New Delhi Television. The promoters, to meet finance requirement for this, had taken around Rs 500 crore loan from India Bulls Financial Services Limited.”
Later, the promoters of NDTV entered into an agreement with ICICI bank to obtain financial assistance to the tune of Rs 375 crore for repayment of debt to India Bulls Finance Limited with the collateral security of entire shares. However, neither the bank nor the promoter of NDTV made disclosures on the creation of the collateral security of shares. This pledging of shares was not reported to SEBI, Stock Exchanges or to the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting. It was alleged that such concealment was done as the creation of collateral of more than 61 per cent of the voting capital was in violation of section 19 (2) of Banking Regulation Act. (It should not be more than 30 percent of the share capital). The loan was allegedly sanctioned in violation of the RBI Master Circular. An interest waiver of about 10 per cent was allegedly given by ICICI.
In 2009 August 6, the promoters entered into a settled agreement with the Bank by paying Rs 350 crore, however, ICICI Bank gave a letter stating that entire amount had been paid. “Multiple shell companies involved in whole layering structure with nominal paid-up capital of `1 lakh. The amount has been re-routed to the end beneficiary RRPR Holding Private Limited to gain control of NDTV as RRPR along with Prannoy Roy and Radhika Roy holds 61 per cent of shares. VCPL is a benami company which entered into a clothed loan agreement and transferred complete control of NDTV to Vishvapradhan Commercial Private Limited. Radhika Prannoy though had funds to pay to ICICI. The VCPL further paid Rs 53.85 crore to RRPR Holding and that was simultaneously siphoned out to Prannoy Roy from RRPR bank account on the same day of receiving funds,” alleged the complainant.
Dr Prannoy Roy and Radhika Roy are also directors of RRPR Holdings Private Limited. The RRPR balance sheet had shown Rs 4 crore liability of ICICI bank even after repayment.
The complainant asked CBI to probe the motive behind ICICI bank not insisting on recovering the entire loan amount and who was the owner of NDTV. “The modus operandi used in taking clandestine control of NDTV was through money laundering route as money has moved across five to seven entities eventually to reach RRPR holdings for their personal gain at the expense of ICICI bank. Why were NDTV funds of 85 million US dollars lying overseas and illegally brought into India, used as leverage to make the promoters gain Rs 403.85 crores,” alleged the complainant.
Editors Guild on raids
- The Editors Guild of India expresses its deep concern over the raids conducted by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on the offices of NDTV and its promoters on Sunday.
- Entry of police and others into the media offices is a serious matter
- While the Editors Guild maintains that no individual or institution is above the law, the Guild condemns any attempt to muzzle the media and calls upon the CBI to follow the due process of law and ensure there is no interference
This is a witch-hunt: NDTV
- The action of the CBI was termed by the NDTV as a “witch-hunt” and an attempt by the government to silence the media
- Hours after its promoters were searched by CBI over a loan from private bank, NDTV produced a 7-year-old receipt issued by ICICI Bank confirming closure of Rs 375 crore loan after repayment in full.
- CBI has filed an FIR based on a complaint by a private individual — a disgruntled former consultant at NDTV — who has been filing cases in courts of law with false allegations