Ramoji-Ambani deal under probe

The Enforcement Directorate has begun probing the Rs 2,604-crore deal between media baron Ch Ramoji Rao and oil major Reliance Industries.

Union minister of state for finance S.S. Palanimanickam wrote to Congress MP Vundavilli Aruna Kumar stating that the ED is “examining the matter” and ob-taining relevant data from the RBI. The probes are at an initial stage, he added. Mr Kumar had earlier submitted a representation to the finance ministry seeking an inquiry by the CBI and the ED into Mr Ramoji Rao’s alleged “involvement in many financial transactions which amount to money laundering,” including the sale of stakes in ETV to Reliance group firms.

Aruna seeks probe into all Ramoji deals
Reliance had purchased stakes in ETV channels for Rs 2,604 crore through its subsidiaries Equator Trading Enterprises and Anu Trading Pvt Ltd. RIL had effectively bailed out Mr Ramoji Rao by arranging these funds through Mr Nimesh Kampani - who is facing charges of financial fraud — when the courts had directed the media baron to immediately pay the deposits back to investors of Margadarsi Financiers, which was run in violation of RBI rules.

Later, Reliance not only acknowledged owning shares in ETV but also sold the same to TV18 network. RIL itself arranged funds to TV18 to buy the ETV shares. Mr Mukesh Ambani’s company had kept the deal with Mr Ramoji Rao a secret till YSR Congress leader Y.S. Vijayalakshmi filed a case against TD chief N. Chandrababu Naidu and made them correspondents. Mr Aruna Kumar questioned how shares were bought at an astronomical price of Rs 5,28,630 each when Mr Ramoji Rao’s companies were incurring losses.

The Congress MP also wrote to Union information and broadcasting minister Ambika Soni to withdraw licenses and uplink permissions granted to Mr Ramoji Rao. He said that uplinking of ETV channels through TV18 should also not be allowed. Besides the ETV-Reliance deal, Mr Aruna Kumar wanted thorough investigations into Mr Ramoji Rao’s Hindu Undivided Family investing Rs 1,688 crore between November 2, 2007, and January 3, 2008, either as fixed deposits in HDFC Bank or as deposits in mutual funds.

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