As the Serious Fraud Investigation Office (SFIO) prepares to begin prosecution against lobbyist Niira Radia’s Vaishnavi firms for alleged violation of the Companies Act, the group has asked Corporate Affairs Minister Sachin Pilot to order an investigation into whether “due process” was followed by the agency.
The SFIO recently submitted its final report on alleged violations — including non-disclosure of key financial and other details by certain Vaishnavi entities and entering into related party transactions without proper clearances — and sought Corporate Affairs Ministry approval for going ahead with the prosecution process.
The agency has been granted permission to begin prosecution, pursuant to which appropriate penal action can be taken, a senior official told PTI.
Vaishnavi Corporate Communications on Sunday wrote to Pilot requesting him to “examine the report (by SFIO) dispassionately on the allegations made against us.”
“If necessary, we are ready to offer a complete explanation on any matter at any stage either to the Government or in the public domain,” the group said, requesting the minister to instruct the person concerned to provide a copy of the report.
“We continue to be victimised by vested interests resulting in irreparable damage to us and many investigations, none of which have led to detection of any illegality on our part. We believe strong action would serve as a deterrent against any repeats. We request you to investigate whether due process has been adopted in the process of finalisation of the report as we apprehend the report has been authored primarily to create sensation by use of selective data points,” it has said.
A Vaishnavi spokesperson confirmed that the letter has been written to the Minister.
Vaishnavi group was a major player in corporate communications and public affairs business with clients like Tatas, Unitech and Reliance Industries. It exited these activities in October 2011 after Radia got embroiled in a controversy pursuant to leak of tapped conversations she allegedly had with businessmen, ministers, political leaders, journalists and others.
In 2012, the then Corporate Affairs Minister Veerappa Moily ordered an SFIO probe into nine Vaishnavi group entities after certain irregularities came to light during a scrutiny by the Registrar of Companies.
Radia has been questioned about the tapped conversations by investigative agencies, including CBI and Enforcement Directorate. Recent reports suggest the CBI has not found any criminality in the 14 preliminary enquiries registered by it on the basis of Radia tapes and may soon file a closure report in these cases.