NEW DELHI: According to the complaint lodged against NDTV co-founder Pranoy Roy and his wife Radhika Roy on Monday, the accused persons allegedly violated the Banking Regulation Act which provides that no banking company shall hold shares in any company, whether as pledge, mortgage or absolute ownership of an amount exceeding thirty per cent of the paid up share capital of that company.
“ICICI Bank was an active participant in violating MIB (Ministry of Information and Broadcasting) Regulations, SEBI Regulations and MHA Security clearance guidelines for News Media Companies,” the complainant alleged in his complaint that is now part of the FIR.
The ICICI Bank allegedly violated a master guideline of the Reserve Bank of India issued on August 28, 1998 which says that “Banks should exercise particular care when advances are sought against large blocks of shares by a borrower or a group of borrowers.” The ICICI Bank allegedly accepted repayment of the loan from the accused persons a reduced rate of interest from 19 per cent to 9.5 per cent causing a loss of Rs 48 crore to the company and wrongful gain to the accused persons.
The accused persons also took a loan of Rs 350 crore and Rs 53.85 crore in two tranches from Vishvapradhan Commercial Private Ltd (VCPL) in 2009-10 and repaid the ICICI loan on August 6, 2009 but the interest rate was reduced from 19 per cent per annum to 9.5 per cent per annum which allegedly caused a loss of Rs 48 crore to ICICI and consequent wrongful gain of the same amount to the accused persons.
“The promoters (Pranoy and Radhika) of New Delhi based TV company (NDTV) pledged the entire shareholding of the promoters of this TV company (NDTV) as collateral for this loan with ICICI bank. This pledging of shares was not reported to SEBI, Stock Exchanges or to the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting. It was alleged that such concealment was done as the creation of collateral of more than 61% of the voting capital was in violation of section 19(2) of Banking Regulation Act. (It should not be more than 30% of the share capital),” the CBI said in a statement.
Statement by Editors Guild of India
The Editors Guild of India expresses its deep concern over the raids conducted by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on the offices of NDTV and its promoters today. Entry of police and other agencies into the media offices is a serious matter. NDTV, in various statements, has denied any wrong doing and termed the raids as “stepping up the concerted harassment” of the news channel and an attempt to “undermine democracy and free speech” and “silence the media.” While the Editors Guild maintains that no individual or institution is above the law, the Guild condemns any attempt to muzzle the media and calls upon the CBI to follow the due process of law and ensure there is no interference in the free functioning of news operations.