Antrix-Devas scam: ED attaches Rs 79.76 crore

Antrix-Devas scam: ED attaches Rs 79.76 crore

The Enforcement Directorate on Monday attached assets worth Rs 79.76 crore from Bengaluru-based Devas Multimedia. The company had entered into a fraudulent deal with an arm of Isro, the agency said.

The ‘proceeds of crime,’ given as ‘capacity reservation fee’ to Isro and held in mutual funds and bank deposits, were provisionally attached under the provisions of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act of 2002.

The ED had registered a case on the basis of an FIR registered by the CBI, which said Devas had fudged facts to enter into an agreement with Isro and its commercial arm Antrix Corporation Limited.

In last August, the CBI had named former Isro chairman G Madhavan Nair and seven others in a charge sheet for causing ‘wrongful gain’ of Rs 578 crore to Devas through Antrix. Between 2004 and 2011, according to the FIR, the government officials abused their positions to favour Devas.

They granted the company rights to deliver videos, multimedia and information services to mobile phones, using the S-band of its satellites GSAT-6 and GSAT-6A.

FEMA violation notice

The ED had in July last year slapped a Rs 1,217.76-crore FEMA violation notice on Devas and others in connection with the controversial deal. The agency has also registered a FEMA case in 2012, and begun investigating the deal under laws to curb money laundering.

What did Devas do?

Devas Multimedia, a company based in Bengaluru, collected investments from abroad on the basis of an agreement with Antrix, an arm of Isro. Devas did not have any technology or intellectual property rights to deliver multimedia services, and the main purpose of signing the agreement was to raise foreign investments, the agency said.

About 85% of the money collected was then siphoned off in the name of investments in subsidiary companies, business support and legal fees, it said.

Zero credentials

Devas “never did any major business” in India other than providing Internet services to about 20-25 customers in Bengaluru, according to the ED.The staff strength of Devas and its subsidiary was just three each.

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