NDTV case is about wrongful gain of Rs 48 crore, not loan default, says CBI

NDTV case is about wrongful gain of Rs 48 crore, not loan default, says CBI
The CBI on Tuesday rejected the NDTV's contention questioning its jurisdiction to probe the case against them by emphasising that the Supreme Court through an order had empowered the agency to investigate corruption in private banks.

The "NDTV in its statement questions the jurisdiction of CBI by stating that ICICI is a private bank. It is clarified that the Honourable Supreme Court in the case of Ramesh Gelli vs CBI of 2016, held that the provisions of Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988 are applicable to the officials of private banks. Therefore, CBI has jurisdiction to take up investigation of the cases of private banks," the agency said in a statement to media.

The CBI also clarified that the charges they were probing were not about loan repayment default as claimed by the NDTV. Instead, it relates to the alleged wrongful gain of Rs 48 crore to NDTV promoters Dr Prannoy Roy, his wife Radhika Roy and RRPR Holdings Pvt Ltd which lead to corresponding loss to the ICICI Bank which was also a party to the criminal conspiracy.   

The CBI said the allegations against Roy's was that they conspired with unknown officials of ICICI bank due to which the private bank "took the entire shareholding of the promoters in NDTV (nearly 61 %) as collateral and then accepted prepayment of the loan by reducing the interest rate from 19 % per annum to nearly 9.5 % per annum". As a result of that the NDTV promoters and were richer by Rs 48 crore, it charged. 

The move was in gross violation of Section 19(2) of the Banking Regulation Act, the Master Circular DBOD No. Dir B90/13.07.05/98-99 dated 28.08.1998 of the Reserve Bank. The allegation, NDTV claimed, that no disclosure was made to SEBI and other regulatory authorities are not only incorrect and false but also does not clothe the CBI with any power to register cases and search which further amplifies the fact that the search by the CBI is only a witch-hunt against independent media.

The CBI stated it has not conducted any search of registered office of NDTV, its studio, newsroom or premises connected with media operations as it "fully respects the freedom of the press and is committed to the free functioning of news operations".

The NDTV, however, had countered the CBI probe by saying that "legal analysts are astounded that where courts have rejected giving any order in all these years, the CBI conducts raids based on what is a private complaint".

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