NDTV searches: CBI examines complainant Dutt

New Delhi, Jun 6 (PTI) The CBI today examined complainant Sanjay Dutt in connection with alleged irregularities in the foreclosure of a bank loan by NDTV from ICICI Bank which resulted in a purported loss of Rs 48 crore to the bank.

The agency has filed an FIR on the basis of a complaint from Dutt which it had received on April 28 this year and had carried out searches at the premises of NDTV promoters Prannoy Roy and his wife Radhika Roy.Dutt was called today to give his statement and other details about the case.
“The complainant was examined today. Relevant documents related to the loan and further details of correspondence have been sought from the ICICI Bank,” a CBI spokesperson said.

Sources said names of ICICI Bank officials who were concerned with the sanction of the loan have also been asked from the bank.
The loan of Rs 375 crore (disbursed Rs 350 crore) was sanctioned in 2008 and was repaid within 10 months by NDTV.
The agency has said that the repayment was done by reducing the rate of interest from 19 per cent per annum to nine per cent per annum which caused a loss of Rs 48 crore to the bank.

The searches which sent ripples in the media fraternity saw criticism from Editors’ Guild of India, SAHMAT and various political parties which termed the move as muzzling of the press.
“Entry of police and other agencies into the media offices is a serious matter,” the Editors’ Guild statement had said after the raids yesterday.
Press Club of India and All India Newspaper Editors’ Conference also condemned the CBI raids on NDTV.
The CBI defended its move saying it respects freedom of the press and it did not search the studio or newsroom of NDTV.

Its searches were limited to residential premises of the promoters of NDTV, it said.
In an unusually lengthy statement, the agency said it has not conducted any search on the registered office of NDTV, media studio, newsroom or premises connected with media operations.
“CBI fully respects the freedom of the press and is committed to the free functioning of news operations,” it said and clarified that the allegations under investigation are not regarding the default in loan repayment.
The allegations “relate to the wrongful gain of Rs 48 crore to the promoters — Prannoy Roy, Radhika Roy, RRPR Holdings Pvt Ltd and a corresponding wrongful loss to the ICICI Bank arising from their collusion and criminal conspiracy,” the CBI said.

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