Top executives at Bennett Coleman and Company Limited – the Times of India publisher and media conglomerate – have been questioned by the Enforcement Directorate over alleged violations of the Foreign Exchange Management Act and under Prevention of Money Laundering Act, the has reported.
Transactions worth more than Rs 900 crore between the firm and entities in tax haven British Virgin Islands are among those under scrutiny, officials told the Indian Express.
BCCL owns media and entertainment assets across languages and platforms, including radio, TV and digital.
ED officials refused to elaborate on the matter while BCCL vice chairman Samir Jain and managing director Vineet Jain did not respond to attempts to seek their comment by the paper.
Over the past few weeks, the firm’s executive committee chairman Sivakumar Sundaram and chief financial officer Himanshu Agarwal have been called in for questioning at the ED headquarters in New Delhi, according to the report.
The BCCL balance sheets show MX Media Co Ltd as a group firm incorporated in BVI, according to the Indian Express. Its status was shown as a “subsidiary” in 2017-18 and 2018-19 with the parent firm holding 52.35 percent equity. This was changed to the status of an “associate” with the parent company’s equity diluted to 40.36 percent in the years 2019-2020 and 2020-2021, according to the report. RBI filings on FDI flow for MX Media Co Ltd show that it was listed as a joint venture linked to “financial insurance and business services”, and that it has an equity of $35.8 million in financial year 2019.
There are other “associate” companies incorporated in South Korea, China and Singapore.