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NDTV Accused of Laundering 5,000 Cr. in Yet Another Politically Connected Scandal

There’s yet another “gate” in the works, it seems.Prannoy Roy founded NDTV – a listed entity – has been accused of laundering the money to the tune of Rs. 5,000 crores. I have some details from Manushi (HT @puchoo for highlighting the link) where an article by Madhu Kishwar brings some of the details to light.

Ram Jethmalani, a lawyer-turned-politician, has supposedly written a long letter to Chidambaram, accusing him and NDTV of a lot of things, including :

  • He says NDTV has a London subsidiary through which money was “laundered”, which he says was Chidambaram’s (India’s finance minister’s) money
  • A tax officer, SK Shrivastava, investigated NDTV and has, according to Jethmalani, been accused falsely of sexual harrassment, suspended and declared mentally insane (which was later withdrawn).
  • Two woman assessing officers (Shumana Sen and Ashima Neb) were involved as well, says Jethmalani.

Further, S. Gurumurthy, who’s a CA and has done many detailed investigations, writes to both Jethmalani and to Prannoy Roy of NDTV, in a strong letter accusing NDTV of these and more. (HT Alpha Ideas)

There are multiple accusations, and let’s take them one by one.

The Sexual Harassment Case and Abuse of the Law

The two IT officers – Shumana Sen and Ashima Neb – accused Shrivastava of sexual harassment. The report of the Vishakha committee created to investigate this case has noted that there was no harassment of any kind. Supposedly he used some bad language, and this was construed as sexual harassment. I think this is not what the law was made for – it was to protect women against overtures, and there were no overtures discovered by the panel which had  mostly women on it.

Secondly, it’s important to note that Ms. Sen’s husband worked with NDTV, and Ms. Sen was the assessing officer, supposedly, of NDTV.

The Europe Trip of Ms. Sen Sponsored by NDTV

So Shumana Sen apparently went to this fancy all expense paid Europe trip. Her husband worked for NDTV. Ms. Sen says it was a part of her husband’s salary, but Gurumurthy determines it was not because no one else at her husband’s (Abhisar Sharma) grade got this kind of perk, and Jethmalani says it cost Rs. 1 crore.

This would’ve been okay, but Ms. Sen had assessed NDTV’s accounts, and given them a refund of Rs. 1.47 crores, according to both Gurumurthy and Jethmalani. Additionally, they say, this relationship was not revealed by Ms. Sen at the time of her assessment, and she didn’t say while going to the foreign trip that she had assessed NDTV which was paying for that trip. This, if true, is a huge integrity issue, and must be investigated.

Unknown end-source of 300 Million Step Up Bonds Issued By NDTV

This is the laundering accusation. Jethmalani states that in 2006-07 a London subsidiary got 300 million pounds in the UK in the form of Step-Up coupon bonds (low initial interest payment, which goes up later). This was lying idle for about two years, he says, before it was moved to the Mumbai NDTV entity in 2009 through a Mauritius intermediary.

Both Gurumurthy and Jethmalani accuse NDTV of not revealing the final source of the money that subscribed to these bonds. Further, Jethmalani says the liability was “written off” while Gurumurthy disputes Prannoy Roy’s submission that bondholders have been paid off (because the proof of paying them back is incomplete or unreliable or absent!).

The whole Mauritius piece, according to Jethmalani, involved a trip to Mauritius by Ms. Ashima Neb (who if you recall was one of Shrivastava’s accusers of sexual harassment) that cost upwards of Rs. 12 lakh, which he implies was not paid by Ashima Neb.

Shrivastava was hounded

The investigating tax officer, SK Shrivastava, was not just accused and later absolved of sexual harassment. He was suspended on these charges and others too, says Madhu Kishwar. He was declared as having a mental disorder and thus unreliable by VIMHANS, a private hospital in Delhi, says Madhu. This report was quickly withdrawn when other doctors said there was no such problem and there was a potential investigation by the Medical Council of India.

All of the three – Madhu Kishwar, Jethmalani and Gurumurthy allege that Shrivastava got the short end of the stick for investigating the NDTV money flow.

There’s a Legal Notice Too

Madhu Kishwar apparently received a legal notice with an apologise-or-else type of wording. It’s a little strange to send that kind of letter when you are a media entity yourself, to be honest. But I don’t think everyone’s being honest here.

I suppose if I write about it, I should get this kind of notice as well, but let me point out to the lawyers, that I’m pretty much paraphrasing what others have said, and linking to what seem to me as documents that are undisputedly letters written by the said gentlemen and lady. However, the fear of a legal notice can’t determine what you do in life, so I’m posting this anyhow.

My View

There needs to be an investigation. If it can’t be done now, the next government should do it. These accusations have enormous number of official documents with them, and they seem like they’re true. We need a real investigation and if the CBI has to be called in, they should be.

If the media has been funded by “black money”, then we should really get to the source of the step up coupon bonds, even if we had to use the banking system to do so (i.e. get the UK entity’s bank statements and find out where the money was routed from).

False allegations of sexual harassment make it easy for real harassers to accuse victims instead. This is shameful and while the law allows no action, we need to find a way to ensure that such abuse is not tolerated.

It is easy to accuse Chidambaram of stopping investigations or of hounding Shrivastava, but the reports don’t seem to have enough dope against him. The allegations that seem to be supported are the source of the funds of the 300 million pound bonds, and the case of Ms. Sen’s husband being employed with NDTV while she was the assessing officer. The rest will still need more evidence to prove wrongdoing.

But there is a scam all right. The sum of Rs. 5,000 cr. is somewhat large (in my head, even 1/100th of that amount is large). The government would do well to allow a less partial investigation into this and give a detailed reports so that India, in Arnab’s dream conclusion, actually knows. 

  • Mohammed says:

    What you forget (or omit) to write is that All of these 3 Gurumurthy, Jethmalani and Madhu Kishwar are BJp men.(women in case of Madhu). we should take this with a pinch f salt.

    • Not sure why that matters when there is some evidence.

    • sometimesbullsometimesbear says:

      Dear Mohammed…
      So will the converse also be true…????
      Meaning if 3 Congressmen or women make an allegation against a BJP party member or any other opposition party member, SHOULD WE ALSO TAKE THIS WITH A PINCH OF SALT????????
      Let us please rise above our caste community RELIGION region language gender and stand very very strongly against stealing or pickpocketing of national wealth and resources in any manner by anybody!!!!
      I pay taxes and I expect that money to be used to build good toll free roads, affordable hospitals and educational institutions, affordable power generating means, etc. Is that too much to expect????

      • Mohammed says:

        And why when a muslim comments against BJP we see it with a communal angle? where in my comment do you communal bias? just because I am Muslim should I not have liberty to pick and choose my political leanings? Only sick people think that because I am muslim I am giving a communcal angle to it. What If i had chosen a hindu name while commenting? Aren’t you the one who came up with Communal abgle to it? I can only with you GET WELL SOON out of your disease.

        • I admit – there is no reason to attack people for their religion or name, so I’m going to delete any comments that get personal. I don’t think it’s because of religion that Mohammad supports X party (or does not support Y party) and I do not like the way that conversation is going!
          There’s no communal thingy here, please. This is about corruption, which is shameful no matter which religion we belong to!

        • sometimesbullsometimesbear says:

          Communal angle? Where have I mentioned anywhere in my comment that u r communal???????
          I care a rats arse whether u r muslim or from mars!!!!!
          All I am saying is that we need to see the facts as they are without coloring it.

  • Shailendra says:

    Deepak..these people are well connected and u might even get a notice from their lawyer…Asatyamev jayate

  • bhupesh says:

    When other media houses would not raise/investigate such issues, let political rivalry play out. Only fear is compromise between the two.

  • XYZ says:

    $500 million in untraceable money is a lot!
    I am not sure where the Rs 5000 crore figure came from though. I did not read the linked articles.
    Unfortunately this will never be investigated. Even the Delhi government has not stood by its promise of investigating the deals made by previous governments.

  • Murty says:

    The same Jethmalani, forget about his BJP relation, fights the legal battle for a criminal, the same Congress protects the same criminal, the same Parliament lets the CBI down, the same PM lets the Nation down with callous remarks on safegaurding files, The same government plays with the emotions of 9Crore AP Population, the same system ignores thousand other issues, which are VERY VERY SERIOUS ECONOMIC OFFENCES, no one bothers.
    Chalta Hai!
    Deepak, 50Cr is an issue for you, but for them, even 5Lakh Crores is not sufficient…….

  • kaushik says:

    I used to like and worship Prannoy Roy as an ideal gentleman and torchbearer or truth in my childhood when he used to run 30min NDTV news bulletin in a crisply dressed way in Doordarshan. What a tragic turn of reality. All my childhood heroes have sold their souls to money and it seems I can NOT relate anyone to them anymore. Is it called growing old and mature?

    • sometimesbullsometimesbear says:

      Dear Kaushik….Prannoy Roy is CPI (M) leader Vrinda Karat’s real brother-in-law…..His wife Radhika Roy is Vrinda’s real younger sister!!!!
      I am not suggesting anything….but it is a no brainer if one adds up two and two and comes with the answer four.

      • Mohammed says:

        So a CPI(M) leaders brother or sister has the same political agenda? So you mean Vasundhare Raje is a congressi in BJP?

        • sometimesbullsometimesbear says:

          All media houses have agendas!!!!
          They are not charitable organizations or NGOs.
          They need to pay salaries run overheads pay dividends and hence make profits!!!!
          When u have profits to create there are going to be casualties!!!!
          Again…I care a R….A…..who Vasundhara is or Prannoy Roy is or Vrinda Karat is…….
          What I am saying is “NO MEDIA ANCHOR OR MEDIAMAN OR WOMAN IS A SAINT!!!!!”
          Barkha is competing with Arnab..Anab is competing with Rajdeep…Rajdeep is competing with Rahul Kanwar….etct etc…etc.
          They are all building their brand images and marketing their programs and channels!!!
          As viewers we need to be aware and let our common sense sift the grain from the chaff…..
          Btw u seem to be hurt……..Let me assure you that I have nothing against u personally….it is only the point……and u have the right to hv ur point as well as I have the right to make mine…
          Thank you. and God bless

  • lohit says:

    On another note, what is your view of the stock market corrections across the world? Is this just a storm in a teacup or has the taper effect finally begun to trickle through to the emerging world. 1997 redux ?

  • Ramamurthy says:

    Where is the link between Mr. Chidambaram to this alleged scam.? If Mr. Chimbaram is not guilty Mr. Ram will say, no it is not Chidambaram it is, Man Mohan Sigh. Where is the end? Unless you have strong evidence dont go on accusing.

    • Murty says:

      What sort of evidence you need? The un-traced will never be traced, and as the article suggested, the traceable will be hounded , another example is Khemka. Just a facebook posting was a big issue for Jr.Chidu, but hundreds of politicians call themselves names, it is not serious. Son of President will get angry, another son of ex-president involved in land grabbing….the reference to AP in one of the biggest scams leads to the close associate of the you-know-who, the digital diary of ex-Satyam Director reveals a lot of names. Currency notes fall to crumbles in one of the executives locker, bags of notes were found in a dump….. You need evidence? Strong evidence? WHo killed YSR in AndhraPradesh? the Honerabale Home Minster in India involved in a real estate scam, still RULES us! The top Military officials goofed up in purrchases, but the fact gets hushed up! Long ago, CK Jaffersherrif, laid a railroad, rumours were spread around then that his daughter is studying medicine, the commuting has to be fecilitated. While the daily labour gets scrched in the daily heat, every MLA, MLC gets a Toyota Fortuner …….

    • sometimesbullsometimesbear says:

      Ramamurthy probably your regional linguistic affiliation to PC is playing out here….Rise above these divisions created by politicians……
      These rascals have divided India in the name of caste community religion region minority majority language and now also gender!!!!

      • Mohammed says:

        Everybody else has some or other affiliation except you. Yes we understand.

        • sometimesbullsometimesbear says:

          If u understand so be it…It does not matter to me at all.
          U have ur point….. I have my point….somebody else has his or her point…..
          My affiliation is towards the TRUTH and only the TRUTH!!!! and not to any …..isms…….!!!

  • Ramamurthy says:

    I mentioned Mr.Chidambram because his name was mentioned in the write up. It is not because of any regional affiliation.
    With no iota of evidence can you go on accusing all and sundry?

  • sometimesbullsometimesbear says:

    Btw Deepak ….Manushi has withdrawn the article….:):) Madhu Kishwar alone knows why…..