The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on Monday conducted searches at the residences of NDTV’s promoter Prannoy Roy for allegedly causing a loss of Rs 48 crore to ICICI Bank on a loan of Rs 350 crore between 2008 and 2010. The agency further accused Roy, his wife Radhika Roy, private company RRPR Holding and officials of ICICI Bank of allegedly concealing share transaction from the Securities and Exchange Board of India, stock exchange and the ministry of information and broadcasting.
Calling the raids a “blatant attack on the freedom of the press,” NDTV, in a statement on Monday evening, said that the CBI had filed its FIR based on a “shoddy complaint” by a “disgruntled” former NDTV consultant who has not obtained a “single order from the courts”.
In its FIR, the CBI accused NDTV founders, RRPR Holding Pvt Ltd and unknown officials of ICICI Bank of criminal conspiracy, cheating and corruption.
The CBI said RRPR Holdings had allegedly taken a loan of Rs 500 crore from Indiabulls to purchase 20% shares of NDTV from the public in 2008-09.
The CBI alleged that RRPR Holdings took a loan of Rs 375 crore at the rate of 19% per annum from ICICI Bank to repay the borrowing from Indiabulls. The promoters of NDTV pledged their entire shareholding in NDTV as a collateral to ICICI Bank for this loan, the CBI alleged. This pledging of shares was not reported to Sebi, exchanges and the I&B ministry, according to the CBI.
Such concealment was allegedly done because a creation of more than 61% voting capital for ICICI Bank was in violation of Section 19 (2) of the Banking Regulation Act. It should not be more than 30%, the agency said in its FIR. An interest waiver of 10% was given by ICICI Bank.
According to the Banking Regulation Act, “No banking company shall hold shares in any company, whether as pledgee, mortgagee or absolute owner, of an amount exceeding 30% of the paid-up share capital of that company or 30% of its own paid-up share capital and reserves, whichever is less.”