CBI files case against Prannoy Roy, NDTV alleges ‘witch-hunt’
New Delhi: The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on Monday registered a case against New Delhi Television Ltd (NDTV) co-founders Prannoy Roy and his wife Radhika Roy for allegedly causing losses to ICICI Bank for over Rs48 crore. The two have been booked under relevant section of the IPC and the Prevention of Corruption (PC) Act for criminal conspiracy, cheating and criminal misconduct.
The federal agency also named ICICI Bank in its First Information Report (FIR) for “allegedly conniving, committing fraud and entering into a conspiracy with promoters of NDTV in facilitating transfer of ownership of a news broadcasting company to a shell company.”
In a statement, NDTV refuted the charges.
Labelling the raids a “witch-hunt,” NDTV issued a statement on Monday evening, saying that its promoters—Prannoy and Radhika Roy—had never defaulted on any loans.
The statement added that “the CBI has been compelled to file an FIR based on a shoddy complaint by a disgruntled former consultant at NDTV called Sanjay Dutt, who has been making false allegations and filing cases in courts of law with these false allegations. So far, he has not obtained a single order from any of these courts.”
The investigating agency also raided four premises belonging to the broadcaster’s promoters in Delhi and Dehradun. The official premises of the channel in New Delhi’s Greater Kailash neighbourhood were not among those raided.
The agency is also probing the role played by ICICI Bank for “acting as a conduit for a benaami person in laundering funds to the tune of Rs403.85 crore in collusion with Prannoy and Radhika Roy through a labyrinth of shell companies.”
“All these acts are committed in violation of Banking Regulation Act, Sebi (Securities and Exchange Board of India) Act, MIB (ministry of information and broadcasting) Regulations and MHA (ministry of home affairs) security norms for media companies. ICICI Bank was an active participant in the violations,” the CBI said.
“It is shocking that the CBI conducted searches on the NDTV offices and residence of the promoters without even conducting a preliminary enquiry. This is a blatant political attack on the freedom of the press,” NDTV said in a statement.
CBI also released a compendium of documents pertaining to the allegations against the Roys.
NDTV, in its statement said that “the allegation appears to be for a loan which has been repaid by Prannoy Roy and Radhika Roy more than seven years ago.” The company attached documents proving the same. CBI’s complaint refers to the fact that the bank didn’t insist on recovering the entire loan. ICICI Bank spokesperson declined to comment.
In November 2015, the Enforcement Directorate (ED) had served a showcause notice to NDTV for allegedly breaching foreign exchange regulations in availing of overseas and foreign direct investment facilities to the tune of Rs2,030 crore.
Shares of NDTV fell 4.49% to Rs59.5 on Monday on the BSE while the benchmark Sensex was up 0.12% to 31,309.49 points.