NDTV case: CBI says it can probe private banks

NDTV case: CBI says it can probe private banks

The CBI on Tuesday rejected NDTV’s contention, questioning its jurisdiction to probe the case against it, by emphasising that the Supreme Court had empowered the agency to investigate corruption in private banks.

“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 stated.

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

The CBI said the allegations against the Roys 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, NDTV promoters were richer by Rs 48 crore, the CBI 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 of India. 

The allegation, NDTV claimed, that no disclosure was made to the Securities and Exchange Board of India (Sebi) and other regulatory authorities is 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 the 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”.
DH News Service

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