The CBI on August 19, 2019, has lodged an FIR against NDTV promoters Prannoy Roy and Radhika Roy and others for alleged offences of criminal conspiracy and cheating, an allegation denied by the company.
Besides the Roys, the agency has also named in the FIR Vikram Chandra as well as unidentified government officials for allegedly violating foreign direct investment (FDI) rules in a 2007-09 investment.
Under the CBI scanner are investments made by NCBU, a General Electric company at the time, in Network PLC (NNPLC), an NDTV company incorporated in London on November 30, 2006.
The investigation agency has alleged that NNPLC in 2009 got approval from the Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) 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.
In a statement, NDTV strongly denied the CBI's 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. 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", it 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 the agency in 2016, the CBI officials said.
It is alleged that during May 2004 to May 2010, NDTV floated around 32 subsidiary firms all over the world, mostly in the tax havens of Holland, the United Kingdom, Dubai, Malaysia, Mauritius etc.
The FIR states that a majority of these companies had no business transactions and were only set up for financial transactions to bring funds from abroad.
These funds were invested by unknown public servants through NDTV and laundered back into India through multiple layers of complex transactions and shell companies, the FIR states.
In light of these allegations, FIR has been lodged under Sections 120-B (criminal conspiracy) and 420 (cheating) of the Indian Penal Code, 1860. Sections 13(1) and 13(2) of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988, have also been invoked against the unnamed public servants involved in the alleged offences.