The ED today recorded the statement of lyricist Javed Akhtar here in connection with a money laundering probe case involving an umbrella body of artistes. Officials said Akhtar is a complainant in the case and the central probe agency is questioning him for information and details of the matter. The famous lyricist is the chairman of the board of directors of the Indian Performing Right Society Limited, which is accused of not paying the dues of its member lyricists and song writers. “Akhtar was given an option to send a representative for the questioning and recording of statement. But he came himself to help investigators take the probe forward,” a senior official said.
The Enforcement Directorate had registered a case under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act against the IPRS and the Phonographic Performance Limited (PPL) in March 2015 on the basis of criminal complaints and police FIRs alleging “gross irregularities” in its affairs. The PPL is a copy right society for sound track recording companies and it also issues licences to the users of sound or music recordings for public performance on behalf of member music companies. It exclusively holds public performance and radio broadcasting rights for over 5 lakh songs in the country.
The agency had last year attached assets worth Rs 13 crore of the PPL and mutual funds worth Rs 70.17 crore of the IPRS in this case.
During the course of the probe, the ED had earlier said, it was found that the office bearers of the IPRS had assigned their rights to issue user licences and collect royalties to the PPL on the basis of revenue sharing.
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However, in connivance with the IPRS and Ms Select Media Holding Pvt Ltd (SMHPL), the PPL indulged in criminal conspiracy and cheating, and revenue due to the IPRS was not paid to them, it had said. “Investigations reveal that Rs 13.04 crore was thus retained fraudulently by the PPL which led to non-payment of royalties to the members of the IPRS who are music writers, composers, directors among others,” the agency had said. “It was alleged that as the IPRS and the PPL are dominated by music companies, rights of literary work owners like lyricists and music composers are being undermined and the IPRS is not collecting and distributing their due royalties,” it had said.
The IPRS collects royalties on public performances of songs and music from consumers like restaurants, radio stations, television channels among others and distributes royalties so collected among lyricists, composers (music directors) and publishers (music companies) in the ratio of 20:30:50 (up to June 21, 2012) and in the ratio of 25:25:50 thereafter.
The affairs of the IPRS are managed by a governing council comprising directors, some prominent names in the music industry, and representatives of popular music companies in the country.