The ED, over the past few weeks, has summoned the company’s top officials, including its Executive Committee Chairman and CFO, for interrogation at its headquarters in Delhi.

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Money Law Friday, July 08, 2022 - 14:26

Media giant Bennett Coleman and Company Limited (BCCL), better known as the Times Group, is reportedly under the scanner of the Enforcement Directorate (ED) in connection with alleged violations of the Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA). The firm’s top managers, including Executive Committee Chairman Sivakumar Sundaram and Chief Financial Officer Himanshu Agarwal, have faced rounds of questioning over the past few weeks by the central agency, which has also sent formal requests for corroborative information from offshore destinations, the Indian Express reported. 

BCCL is a publisher of popular newspapers including The Times of India and The Economic Times, besides a number of other print publications, TV channels, digital and electronic media properties. According to the Indian Express, the central investigation agency is looking at financial transactions to the tune of over Rs 900 crore between the BCCL and entities in UK tax haven British Virgin Islands (BVI). The interrogations are learnt to have been held at the ED headquarters in New Delhi.

The balance sheets of the company reportedly show that MX Media Co Ltd, one among the various firms under the Group, is incorporated in the BVI and was categorised as a “subsidiary” company in 2017-18 and 2018-19, with the parent company holding 52.35% equity. Subsequently, in the years 2019-2020 and 2020-2021, its status was changed to an “associate” company with the parent company’s equity diluted to 40.36%. 

Further, filings of the Reserve Bank of India on outward FDI flow for 2019 show MX Media being listed as a joint venture dealing with “financial insurance and business services”, with an equity of $35.8 million, the report said. It added that there are also other “associate” companies listed in the balance sheet, which have been incorporated in South Korea, China and Singapore.

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