The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) said on Tuesday, June 6, that the raids it had carried out at the properties of NDTV promoters Prannoy and Radhika Roy were not connected to the news channel but to a "wrongful gain" case filed by ICICI Bank. It alleged "criminal conspiracy" on behalf of the Roys, a private firm and some employees of ICICI Bank itself.
The statement comes a day after it was revealed that a case had been registered against the Roys, a private company and a few others. CBI also carried out raids at Roy's residence in New Delhi in connection with the case.
Following the raids, the news outlet had said in a statement: "NDTV and its promoters will fight tirelessly against this witch-hunt by multiple agencies. We will not succumb to these attempts to blatantly undermine democracy and free speech in India."
The central probe agency clarified in its statement that the raids had been carried out in a case filed against the Roys and a private firm, and not against NDTV itself. It said: "CBI has not conducted any search of registered office of NDTV, media studio, news room or premises connected with media operations. CBI fully respects the freedom of press and is committed to the free functioning of news operations."
The agency added in its statement: "CBI has registered the case based on the complaint of a shareholder of ICICI Bank and NDTV after carrying out due diligence. Denigrating the allegations at this stage of investigation and wrongly accusing the agency of acting under pressure is uncalled for and an attempt to malign the image of CBI."
It also said: "The investigation is being conducted as per the due process of law and under the jurisdiction of the Court of law. The result of investigation will be filed before the competent Court of law based on the evidence adduced during investigation."
What is the case?
The CBI said in its statement: " It has been mentioned in the statement of NDTV that NDTV and its promoters have never defaulted on any loan. The allegations under investigation are not regarding the default in loan repayment; but relate to the wrongful gain of Rs 48 crore to the promoters and a corresponding wrongful loss to the ICICI bank arising from their collusion and criminal conspiracy."
The complaint apparently says the NDTV promoters, "acting in criminal conspiracy with unknown officials of ICICI bank," violated several laws. "In furtherance of the conspiracy, ICICI Bank took the entire shareholding of the promoters in NDTV (nearly 61 percent) as collateral and then accepted prepayment of the loan by reducing the interest rate from 19 percent per annum to nearly 9.5 percent per annum," said CBI.
This resulted in the Roys and the private firm gaining Rs 48 crore, while ICICI Bank lost that amount.