The Central Bureau of Investigation on Tuesday issued a statement about the raids conducted in the houses of NDTV founder Radhika Roy and the channel’s Executive Chairperson Prannoy Roy. The agency denied reports that the CBI was “acting under pressure”, and said the searches were carried out on the basis of a warrant issued by a “competent court”.
“[The] CBI has not conducted any search of registered office of NDTV, media studio, news room or premises connected with media operations,” the statement said. “[The] CBI fully respects the freedom of press and is committed to the free functioning of news operations. Denigrating the allegations at this stage of investigation and wrongly accusing the agency of acting under pressure is uncalled for and an attempt to malign the image of the CBI.”
They said the investigation was initiated after the agency received a complaint from a shareholder of ICICI Bank and NDTV. They would submit a report before a court, the statement added.
The agency also rejected NDTV’s argument that the CBI did not have jurisdiction in the matter as it involved a private bank. The CBI, in its statement, cited a previous judgment where the Supreme Court had said that the provisions of Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988 were applicable to the officials of private banks. “Therefore, CBI has jurisdiction to take up investigation of the cases of private banks,” the agency said.
Here is the full text of the statement.
Reports in sections of the media have raised certain issues and the statement issued by NDTV has levelled certain allegations against the CBI investigation in the case relating to the promoters of NDTV and others.
It is clarified that searches have been carried out at the premises of the promoters and their offices based on search warrants issued by the Competent Court. CBI has not conducted any search of registered office of NDTV, media studio, news room or premises connected with media operations. CBI fully respects the freedom of press and is committed to the free functioning of news operations.
CBI has registered the case based on the complaint of a share holder of ICICI bank and NDTV after carrying out due diligence. Denigrating the allegations at this stage of investigation and wrongly accusing the agency of acting under pressure is uncalled for and an attempt to malign the image of the CBI. The investigation is being conducted as per the due process of law and under the jurisdiction of the Court of law. The result of investigation will be filed before the competent Court of law based on the evidence adduced during investigation.
It has been mentioned in the statement of NDTV that NDTV and its promoters have never defaulted on any loan. The allegations under investigation are not regarding the default in loan repayment; but relate to the wrongful gain of Rs 48 crore to the promoters – Dr. Prannoy Roy, Smt Radhika Roy, M/s RRPR Holdings Pvt Ltd and a corresponding wrongful loss to the ICICI bank arising from their collusion and criminal conspiracy. It is alleged in the complaint that the promoters of NDTV - Dr. Prannoy Roy, Smt Radhika Roy and M/s RRPR Holdings Pvt Ltd, acting in criminal conspiracy with unknown officials of ICICI bank, violated section 19(2) of the Banking Regulation Act, the Master Circular DBOD No. Dir B90/13.07.05/98-99 dated 28.08.1998 of the Reserve Bank of India and in furtherance of the conspiracy, ICICI bank took the entire shareholding of the promoters in NDTV(nearly 61 %) as collateral and then accepted prepayment of the loan by reducing the interest rate from 19 % p.a to nearly 9.5 % p.a and as a consequence thereof, causing a wrongful loss of Rs 48 crore to ICICI bank and a corresponding wrongful gain to the promoters of NDTV - Dr. Prannoy Roy, Smt Radhika Roy and M/s RRPR Holdings Pvt Ltd.
NDTV in its statement questions the jurisdiction of CBI by stating that ICICI is a private bank. It is clarified that the Honourable Supreme Court in the case of Ramesh Gelli vs CBI of 2016, held that the provisions of Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988 are applicable to the officials of private banks. Therefore, CBI has jurisdiction to take up investigation of the cases of private banks.
We urge all concerned to exercise restraint and to cooperate with the investigation. CBI is committed to carrying out the investigation expeditiously and in accordance with the due process of law. CBI reiterates its commitment to the motto i.e. Industry, Impartiality and Integrity.
The complaint was filed by Sanjay Dutt, director of Quantum Services Private Limited. The Roys have been accused of “laundering funds” of Rs 403.85 crore to create an interest in favour of a shell company. They have also been accused of “committing fraud” and “causing wilful loss of over Rs 48 crores to ICICI Bank and the shareholders of NDTV. The bank is also accused of providing a discount on the interest payable on loan.
A First Information Report has been filed in the case