The Enforcement Directorate(ED) has registered a case of money laundering against the NDTV group. Sources said it is related to some foreign fund infusion into NDTV but refused to give any details. Senior ED officials neither confirmed nor denied that the case was based on a CBI FIR which had alleged promoters of the channel, Prannoy Roy and Radhika Roy, and a private company of defrauding banks.
The investigation are being conducted under the provisions of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act, they said.
The CBI had raided the residence of Roy last month in connection with the case following which Roy had called it a “witch-hunt” and attack on the freedom of the press. He has also repeatedly denied any wrongdoing as alleged by the CBI.
The CBI FIR, based on a complaint by NDTV shareholder Sanjay Dutt, alleged “pecuniary loss of over Rs 48 crore to ICICI Bank arising out of unlawful/undue favour and profit transferred to promoters of New Delhi Television — being Dr Prannoy Roy, Radhika Roy and RRPR Holding.”
It said that “ICICI Bank allegedly conniving, committing fraud and entering into a conspiracy with promoters of NDTV to facilitate transfer of ownership of a news broadcasting company to a khoka/shell company.”
NDTV on Thursday issued a detailed statement on action being taken by CBI, ED and Income Tax department. It said: “The attempt to intimidate and paralyse NDTV has expanded to epic proportions in the last 24 hours. There are new attacks from the CBI and the Enforcement Directorate. In short, there is a concerted and orchestrated 3-pronged attack on NDTV …” It added, “All three agencies are attacking NDTV over one transaction in which GE, USA, made a $150 million investment in NDTV — a perfectly legitimate and publicly, officially declared investment — which they are calling a “sham transaction”.”
Pointing out that CBI had again sought documents from NDTV despite having taken 500 pages related to the case, it said that ED has also informed the Bombay High Court that it is investigating a case of money laundering against NDTV.
“India — and the world — is watching this witch hunt against independent media. It will irreversibly hurt India’s reputation as a democracy with a flourishing and free press,” it said. The statement also revealed that the income tax department had made a “shocking” demand of Rs 429 crore from NDTV to be paid “immediately now”.