The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has registered a case against senior journalist and co-founder of listed broadcaster New Delhi Television (NDTV) Prannoy Roy, his wife Radhika Roy and the compamy’s CEO and Director Vikramaditya Chandra for bringing tainted money of unidentified public servants through a web of complex transactions via the Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) route.
The probe agency in its FIR registered on Monday mentioned that NDTV Ltd through its promoters Prannoy Roy, Radhika Roy, K.V.L. Naryanan Rao (since expired) and Vikramaditya Chandra had entered into a criminal conspiracy with unidentified public servants for the purpose.
The CBI FIR said that NDTV got incorporated on September 8, 1988 and Prannoy Roy, Radhika Roy and Naryanan K.V.L. Rao (a retired IRS officer) were the whole-time directors while Vikramaditya Chandra was the CEO-cum-whole-time Director of the company.
“During the period from May 2OO4 to 2010, NDTV Ltd floated around 32 subsidiary firms all over the world, mostly in tax havens like Holland, UK, Dubai, Malaysia, Mauritius… Majority of these companies had no business transaction and they were meant only for financial transactions to bring funds from abroad,” the FIR said.
It has been alleged that these transactions were sham transactions and the aforementioned funds were invested by unidentified public servants through NDTV Ltd and later laundered back to India through multiple layers of complex transactions and shell companies, the FIR said.
“The proceeds of corruption of unknown public servants were invested through NDTV Ltd,” the FIR said.
The CBI had registered a preliminary enquiry into the case in 2016 against unidentified income tax officials, Prannoy Roy, Radhika Roy, Narayan K.V.L. Rao and Chandra.
The FIR said that NDTV Ltd had incorporated Network PLC (NNPLC) in London on November 30, 2006.
“NNPLC had received an investment to the tune of $20 million through 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. It raised fresh funds amounting to $100 million through Jefferies International by issue of step-up coupon convertible bonds in May, 2007.
“In this transaction, Jefferies International had received $5.5 million as commission. NNPLC transferred Rs 193,98,44,325 to various subsidiary companies of NDTV Group — NDTV imagine Ltd, NDTV Life Style Limited, NDTV Emerging Market BV, NDTV Convergence Ltd and NDTV Labs Limited,” the FIR said.
As per the FIR, NDTV Ltd incorporated another company in the Netherlands on April 10, 2008 in the name and style of NDTV lnternational Holding BV for the purpose of raising funds of $150 million from NBCU, a US-based subsidiary of General Electric. NBCU transferred an amount of $150 million from the account of its subsidiary Universal Studios lnternational BV Netherland on May 23, 2008.
“By investing the amount by NBCU in NDTV International Holdings, NBCU acquired 26 per cent indirect share holding in NNPLC. The said amount was further transferred to the subsidiaries of NDTV Ltd incorporated in Mauritius and London, and finally the amount was received in subsidiaries of NDTV group — NDTV Imagine Ltd, NDTV Lifestyle, NDry Lab, NDTV Convergence, NDTV NGEN and NDTV studio incorporated in India,” the FIR said.