The Central Bureau of Investigation on Wednesday booked news television network NDTV’s founders Prannoy Roy and Radhika Roy and former Chief Executive Officer Vikram Chandra in a new case for alleged violation of foreign direct investment rules, PTI reported, quoting unidentified officials.
They were booked under charges of criminal conspiracy, cheating and corruption. The news network allegedly floated 32 subsidiaries all over the world, “mostly in tax havens”, between 2004 and 2010 to bring foreign funds to India through illegal transactions, according to the investigative agency.
“It is alleged that these transactions are sham transactions and aforementioned funds are invested by unknown public servants through NDTV Ltd and later laundered back to India through multiple layers of complex transactions and shell companies,” the CBI said in a statement.
NDTV called this action by the agency “continued persecution of free press”.
“NDTV and its founders have full faith in India’s judiciary at this crucial time and remain committed to the integrity of the company’s journalism,” the channel’s statement said. “Attempts to silence free and fair reportage through malicious and fabricated charges will not succeed. This is not about a company or individuals but about a larger battle to maintain the freedom of the press, something which India has always been renowned for.”
The company said the Roys have cooperated in all cases filed against them and that the agencies have found no evidence of any corruption by NDTV.
On August 9, the Roys were detained at the Mumbai airport and prevented from leaving the country. NDTV in a statement had said they had been stopped on the basis of a “fake and totally unsubstantiated corruption case” filed by the Central Bureau of Investigation about an ICICI Bank loan that their company, RRPR Holdings, had taken.
NDTV had also said that the authorities did not inform the Delhi High Court or the Roys that they would be detained at the airport. It had claimed that the action was a “warning to the media to fall in line”.
The Securities and Exchange Board of India had in June barred the Roys from the securities market, as well as from holding any managerial posts in the news network for two years. SEBI said it passed the order because the Roys had allegedly violated insider trading regulations.
The markets regulator had initiated an investigation after an NDTV shareholder claimed that Prannoy Roy, Radhika Roy and RRPR Holdings had not disclosed information about loan agreements they entered into with a company known as Vishvapradhan Commercial. ICICI Bank was also part of this agreement.
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