I-T tribunal indicts Roy, NDTV for money laundering Rs.642 crore
The Income Tax Appellate Tribunal (ITAT) indicted Prannoy Roy directly for the evasion and money laundering of Rs. 642cr. ITAT stated that the 2009 Ministry of Corporate Affairs had helped NDTV hide financial information of the foreign shell-companies floated by the media house. The order claims that between 2007-08, 2009-10 NDTV laundered Rs. 1,100cr of black money, of which Rs. 642cr has been confirmed.
Several accusations against NDTV
NDTV has been under I-T investigation since 2014. One case against it pertains to receiving foreign-funds and settling it for 80% less. The parent company, RRPR is being probed for funds it received in relation with the Aircel-Maxis case, and purchase of aircraft by Air India. Last December, SEBI initiated proceedings against NDTV for not announcing a 2009 'change in control' of the company.
Prannoy Roy's offices, home raided by CBI
In June, the CBI searched NDTV's Prannoy Roy's offices and homes over allegations of defrauding a bank. The raids were conducted after an FIR was submitted by a person who has minority stake in NDTV, pointing towards a bank loan default of Rs. 48 crore taken from ICICI bank. NDTV denounced this move, calling it a "witch-hunt" to silence free speech.
CBI says 'no witchhunt', investigating a fraud
Roys created RRPR and borrowed Rs. 501cr from India Bulls. RRPR then borrowed Rs. 375cr from ICICI Bank. By August'09, RRPR had found another lender, a company named Vishvapradhan Commercial Private Limited, to repay the ICICI loan. While RRPR owed ICICI Rs. 396cr, the bank officials and RRPR 'settled' at Rs 350cr. It is this loss of Rs. 48cr that the CBI is investigating.
Media, editors condemn the NDTV raids
Several editors and journalists sprung to defend Prannoy Roy. Raj Chengappa, president of the Editors Guild of India said that the CBI was harassing Roy and undermining India's democracy. Rajdeep Sardesai, a former NDTV anchor, said, "When raids are carried on a respectable public figure, on a nine-year-old investigation, questions are bound to be raised." NDTV called the raids undemocratic too.
Could the raids be BJP's fury on NDTV?
While nothing has been established yet but the timing of the raids have raised questions. Congress while critiquing the raids said it happened merely 2 days after Nidhi Razdhan asked BJP's Sambit Patra to leave the show after an on-air altercation.
Prannoy Roy hid incomes of over Rs. 1,000cr, alleges government
The government said NDTV had allegedly not disclosed incomes of over Rs. 1,000cr by co-founders Prannoy and Radhika Roy, and floated 14 foreign shell companies during 2006-2012 to launder the money. After the laundering, the firms were dissolved. Related investigation had started in 2011, during the UPA rule, sources said. The RBI has also detected violations of FEMA provisions to up to Rs. 2,030cr.