CBI Books NDTV’s Prannoy Roy, Radhika Roy For Alleged Violation Of FDI Norms
NDTV promoter Prannoy Roy. (Photographer: Sanjit Das/Bloomberg News)

CBI Books NDTV’s Prannoy Roy, Radhika Roy For Alleged Violation Of FDI Norms

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The Central Bureau of Investigation has booked New Delhi Television Ltd. promoters Prannoy Roy and Radhika Roy and others for allegedly violating India’s foreign direct investment rules in a 2007-09 deal. The allegation has been denied by the media firm.

CBI has also registered a First Investigation Report against NDTV’s former CEO Vikram Chandra as well as unidentified government officials on charges of criminal conspiracy, cheating and corruption, officials said on Wednesday.

On Wednesday, a CBI team conducted searches at Chandra's residence, officials said.

Under the CBI scanner are investments made by NCBU, a former General Electric company, in Network PLC (NNPLC), an NDTV company incorporated in London on Nov. 30, 2006.

CBI has alleged that NNPLC in 2009 received approval from the Foreign Investment Promotion Board board in violation of FDI rules. It said NNPLC received total FDI worth $163.43 million and invested the amount in various NDTV subsidiaries through a web of complex transactions.

NDTV strongly denied the CBI allegations.

"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," it said in a statement.

“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," it said.

As part of "the continued persecution of free press", NDTV said, a new CBI case has been filed about a $150 million investment in NDTV's non-news business by NCBU, then owned by General Electric.

"The case makes the ludicrous charge that the transaction, declared to all relevant authorities in the US and India, laundered money for unknown public servants," it said.

The FIR is an outcome of a preliminary enquiry registered by CBI in 2016, the agency’s officials said.

It is alleged that between May 2004 and May 2010, NDTV floated around 32 subsidiary firms all over the world, mostly in the tax havens of The Netherlands, United Kingdom, Dubai, Malaysia and Mauritius, among others.

CBI said most of these companies allegedly had no business transactions and were meant for financial transactions to bring funds from abroad. Terming the transactions a "sham", CBI alleged that the funds were invested by unidentified public servants through NDTV and laundered back to India through multiple layers of complex transactions and shell companies.

"Proceeds of corruption of unknown public servants was invested through NDTV Ltd.," the investigation agency alleged.

Also read: NDTV Founders Detained At Mumbai Airport

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