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CBI raids NDTV offices, founder Prannoy Roy's home

In a statement, NDTV said: "This morning, the CBI stepped up the concerted harassment of NDTV and its promoters based on the same old endless false accusations.

ET Bureau|
Jun 06, 2017, 12.43 AM IST
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"NDTV and its promoters will fight tirelessly against this witch-hunt by multiple agencies. We will not succumb to these attempts to blatantly undermine democracy and free speech in India."
"NDTV and its promoters will fight tirelessly against this witch-hunt by multiple agencies. We will not succumb to these attempts to blatantly undermine democracy and free speech in India."
NEW DELHI: The Central Bureau of Investigation conducted searches at the offices of broadcast company New Delhi Television Ltd and the residence of its founders on Monday for allegedly defrauding ICICI Bank `48 crore. NDTV denied any wrongdoing and said the loan had been repaid more than seven years ago. It said the searches were conducted without a preliminary inquiry and constituted a witch-hunt against independent media.

“This is a blatant political attack on the freedom of the press as sources confirm that under pressure, 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,” NDTV said in a release.

However, I&B minister M Venkaiah Naidu countered it.“If somebody does something wrong simply because they belong to media, you cannot expect the government to keep quiet,” Naidu said and added CBI officials were doing their duty and there was no political interference and the media was free and independent in the country. “The CBI might have received some information. That is why they have taken action,” Naidu said.

The Editors Guild of India expressed its “deep concern” over the raids. “Entry of police and other agencies into the media offices is a serious matter,” guild president Raj Chengappa said in a release.

“The guild condemns any attempt to muzzle the media and calls upon CBI to follow the due process of law and ensure there is no interference in the free functioning of news operations.” NDTV stock fell nearly 7% during the day, before recovering slightly to close at `59.50, down 4.7%. The company runs the NDTV 24x7 and NDTV India television news channels. A CBI spokesperson denied accusations of a witch hunt.

The agency registered a criminal case against NDTV executive co-chairperson Prannoy Roy. The agency also booked his wife and co-founder Radhika Roy and a private company— Radhika Roy Prannoy Roy Holdings (RRPR). The raids were carried out in New Delhi, Mumbai and Dehradun. The charges under which the accused have been booked are criminal conspiracy, cheating, criminal misconduct and under relevant sections of Prevention of Corruption Act. “NDTV and its promoters have never defaulted on any loan to ICICI or any other bank,” the company said.

“We adhere to the highest levels of integrity and independence.” The Enforcement Directorate and Income Tax department have been investigating the NDTV since 2014. Dutt, director of Quantum Securities, alleged that a pecuniary loss of over Rs 48 crore was caused to ICICI Bank arising out of unlawful and undue favours and profit transferred to NDTV promoters Prannoy and Radhika Roy. The complaint alleges that ICICI Bank connived and committed fraud and entered into a conspiracy with promoters of NDTV in facilitating transfer of ownership of a news broadcasting company to a shell company.

All these acts were in violation of the Banking Regulation Act, the Sebi Act, I&B ministry regulations and the home ministry’s national security norms for news media companies, the complaint given to CBI reads. It alleged laundering of benami funds of Rs 403.85 crore with mala fide objective to create interest in favour of a benami party to gain covert control of NDTV and also committing fraud and causing wilful loss of over Rs 48 crore to ICICI Bank and loss to the shareholders of NDTV.

The complainant alleged that ICICI played a “dubious role” in acting as a ‘conduit for an unknown entity in laundering of funds amounting to Rs 403.85 crore in collusion with Prannoy Roy and his wife Radhika Roy through a labyrinth of shell companies and a complex web of fund routing with the ulterior motive of creating a controlling interest in favour of an unknown entity in a broadcasting licensed news media company.

It further alleged that the main object of such layered, circuitous investment of Rs 403.85 crore in the third promoter M/s NDTV Ltd (i.e M/s RRPR Holding Pvt. Ltd) through shell companies was clearly to avoid detection of source of funds and the true owner of the funds.

Attack on media, democracy, says Congress
NEW DELHI: The Congress has decried CBI searches on premises of NDTV co-founders Prannoy Roy and his wife Radhika Roy and termed it as “an attack on media and democracy”. “The CBI raids on NDTV co-founders are clearly an attack on media and democracy. The NDA government is trying to create panic in media houses. The Congress strongly condemns it,” senior spokesperson Ajay Maken said at official party briefing.

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