The Enforcement Directorate (ED) has filed a case under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) against Bangalore-based Devas Multimedia, which was involved in a controversial deal with the Indian Space Research Organisation’s (ISRO) commercial arm Antrix Corporation Ltd for launch of two satellites to enable the firm to access S-band spectrum.
The deal, which dates back to 2005 when the department of space portfolio was held by then PM Manmohan Singh, was later cancelled. The ED was already carrying out a probe under the Foreign Exchange Management Act into alleged irregularities in the deal.
After the CBI registered a case in March in connection with the deal, the ED sought details from it of the case against Devas Multimedia — a start-up promoted by a few former ISRO officials — and ISRO’s Antrix Corporation, to begin formal investigations under PMLA. The ED was looking into the flow of funds to the tune of Rs 578 crore from foreign investors into the relatively unknown company involved in the deal.
Devas Multimedia is alleged to have submitted false and incorrect information claiming it had the technology for delivering Satellite — Digital Multimedia Broadcast services to get the rights of delivering the same in India through two satellites — PS1 and PS2. As a result, Devas allegedly got wrongful gains from various investors from US, Mauritius, Singapore and other countries.
Devas allegedly got a subsidiary named M/s Devas USA incorporated in the US, following which a substantial part of the wrongful gain was remitted to the US subsidiary in the form of payments for services, salaries etc.
It is suspected that illegal gratification was given to public servants from this amount.
According to sources, the ED is probing into large transactions involving foreign companies as payment of premium to Devas Multimedia for issuance of preference shares. The payments seem disproportionate to the assets or revenues of the firm, sources said.
The CBI had alleged that the Antrix-Devas S-band deal caused wrongful gain of Rs 578 crore to Devas Multimedia Pvt Ltd and its owners.
When the omissions and commissions by the accused came to light, the January 28, 2005 agreement was annulled by Antrix, as per a decision dated February 17, 2011 of the Cabinet Committee on Security.