Owner of IPL’s Chennai Super Kings franchise, India Cements Limited, had paid Rs 60 crore in 2011 to Kalaignar TV Pvt Ltd, an accused firm facing trial in a 2G scam related money laundering case, for advertising its products, a prosecution witness today told a Delhi court.
Deposing as a witness in the case, Vice President of India Cements Ltd R Muralidhar told Special CBI Judge O P Saini that the purpose of paying this amount to the channel was to advertise their products and also publicise its CSK franchise during the IPL.
On being asked by Enforcement Directorate’s prosecutor N K Matta whether any payment was made by the firm to the channel, Muralidhar said, “An amount of Rs 60 crore was paid to Kalaignar TV (P) Limited in 2011.”
“This is the first time we have entered into a long-term electronic media contract with Kalaignar TV (P) Limited. We have not entered into long-term contract with any other TV channel,” he said.
During the cross-examination by advocate Vijay Aggarwal, who appeared for various accused in the case including Swan Telecom Pvt Ltd (STPL) promoter Shahid Usman Balwa, Muralidhar said India Cements Ltd had not committed any “illegality” by entering into the contract with Kalaignar TV Pvt Ltd (KTV).
“It is correct that entering into such stand alone agreements is as per business practice. By entering into this contract, our company has not committed any illegality, rather we have not committed any illegality. We were not aware as to where the funds transferred by us in response to the agreement would be utilized by Kalaignar TV (P) Ltd,” he said.
Former Telecom Minister A Raja, MP Kanimozhi, DMK leader M Karunanidhi’s wife Dayalu Ammal, STPL promoters Shahid Usman Balwa and Vinod Goenka and 14 others, including nine firms, are facing trial in the case in which the ED had on April 25 filed a charge sheet against them for alleged offences under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA).
The court had on October 31 framed charges against the 19 accused, 10 individuals and nine companies, saying that Raja, allegedly in connivance with Kanimozhi, Dayalu Ammal and other co-accused, was involved in “parking” of illegal gratification of Rs 200 crore in Kalaignar TV.
During the recording of statement, Muralidhar told the court that, “The money transferred by us to Kalaignar TV (P) Ltd from our lawful source and the same did not bear any taint.”
He also said that the agreement regarding advertisement with Kalaignar TV was a “legitimate business transaction” and their firm benefited hugely from the media exposure through the channel.
During the day’s proceeding, the court also recorded the statement of another prosecution witness, S Ananda Prasad, a senior general manager (taxation) of United Spirits Ltd.
Prasad said that as per January 25, 2011 agreement with Kalaignar TV for a long term advertisement contract for eight years, a sum of Rs 65 crore was paid after deducting tax on January 27, 2011 in three or four tranches.
He also deposed there was no illegality in the transaction with Kalaignar TV.
This is the second case in the 2G scam in which Raja, Kanimozhi and others, including Shahid Balwa and Vinod Goenka, are facing trial for their alleged roles.
The other individual accused in the money laundering case are Directors of Kusegaon Fruits and Vegetables Pvt Ltd Asif Balwa and Rajiv Agarwal, Kalaignar TV MD Sharad Kumar, Bollywood producer Karim Morani and P Amirtham. All of them are out on bail.
The court had also framed charges against accused firms –STPL, Kusegaon Realty Pvt Ltd (formerly Kusegaon Fruits and Vegetables Pvt Ltd), Cineyug Media and Entertainment Pvt Ltd (formerly known as Cineyug Films Pvt Ltd), Kalaignar TV Pvt Ltd, Dynamix Realty, DB Realty Ltd, Eversmile Construction Company Pvt Ltd, Conwood Constructions and Developers (P) Ltd and Nihar Constructions Pvt Ltd.
In the first case probed by CBI, Raja, Kanimozhi, Shahid Balwa, Goenka, Asif Balwa, Rajiv Agarwal, Morani and Sharad Kumar, along with nine others, are facing trial for alleged criminal breach of trust, conspiracy, forgery, cheating and other offences punishable under IPC and the Prevention of Corruption Act.