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The Enforcement Directorate issued a show-cause notice to private television news channel NDTV for alleged violations of the forex law in more than Rs 4,000 crore worth of overseas investments it received and made.
“The investigation showed FEMA contraventions relating to receipt of foreign direct investment by NDTV to the extent of Rs 1,637 crore and the other relating to overseas investments to the tune of Rs 2,732 crore,” the central probe agency said in a statement today.
NDTV, however, rejected the allegations. The news channel said it is being “targeted for its fair and independent journalism and that its persecution is intended to signal to other media that unless they fall in line, they will face similar consequences”, a statement on its website said. “Raids on media owners are further evidence of this.”
The ED show-cause notice under the Foreign Exchange Management Act was issued to the founders and executive co-chairpersons of the group—Prannoy Roy and Radhika Roy—journalist Vikram Chandra and a few others.
The companies alleged to have contravened the FEMA are Ms NDTV Lifestyle Holdings Ltd. (now Ms Lifestyle and Media Holdings Ltd.), Ms South Asia Creative Assets Ltd., Ms Astro Overseas Ltd. and Ms NDTV Imagine Ltd. (now Ms Turner General Entertainment Networks India Pvt Ltd.).
The agency said it is also probing an instance of foreign direct investment received by the media group worth Rs 725 crore, which only the cabinet committee on economic affairs was competent to clear (cases of FDI in excess of Rs 600 crore). “But, no CCEA approval was taken,” the ED alleged.
“The FDI was projected as below Rs 600 crore as part of larger conspiracy. While applying for FIPB approval NDTV projected FDI as varying between $130-160 million. Documents of FIPB section also projected FDI differently as Rs 585 crore ($130 million at the rate of Rs 45 per dollar). “Further, investigation on this aspect is continuing,” the agency said.
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