Rajya Sabha MP and YSRCP General Secretary Y S Vijayasai Reddy has written to the Chief Justice of India, alleging that media baron and former TV9 CEO Ravi Prakash, who is presently embroiled in a legal battle with the Telangana government, indulged in money laundering worth several hundred crore.
"This is to bring to your kind notice that Ravi Prakash, who is in the electronic media business, has misused and abused his position to blackmail and extort unaccounted money and assets in exchange for various favours in news channels and social media platforms," the letter states.
The police in Hyderabad are presently investigating a case of forgery and cheating against Ravi Prakash, who was forced to step down earlier this year, after the Board of Associated Broadcasting Company Private Limited (ABCPL) passed a resolution revoking all powers vested with him.
"He illegally acquired a lot of unaccounted wealth which he has stashed in foreign countries which amounts to serious offences under the provisions of Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) and Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA), RBI Regulations, Income Tax Act (IT Act) and other such laws," the YSRCP MP alleged.
Alleging that Ravi Prakash was close to Sana Satish Babu, who is presently under investigation by the CBI in connection with a money laundering case, Vijayasai claimed that the media baron had opened several bank accounts, including ones in Zambia.
The YSRCP MP alleged that Ravi Prakash had invested in a company called Kampala Siti Cable Limited, based in Zambia, but had failed to disclose the same in his Income Tax returns.
"In 2009, Ravi Prakash had purchased ordinary shares amounting to 90% of the total shareholding in Kampala Siti Cable Limited for consideration of Rs 34 per share. However, in the very same year, other parties had purchased the same ordinary shares amounting to 10% of total shareholding for consideration of Rs 140 per share," Vijayasai wrote.
"It is not just the hefty difference in consideration paid that raises suspicion, but also the fact that a profit-making cable company has issued its valuable shares at such a discounted price to Ravi Prakash," he added.
The YSRCP MP alleged that Ravi Prakash had struck similar deals in Nairobi in Kenya and in Media NXT Limited in India, besides iCast International, Inc and Maaya Vision LLC, which have its offices in the United States.
"The above are some of the illegal activities which he has done and acquired huge wealth in foreign countries and is also drawing commissions from these companies regularly. This complaint is given in national interest," Vijayasai said.
Demanding a CBI and ED probe, the YSRCP MP requested the CJI to "put a stop to their illegal acts and ill-gotten wealth through blackmailing, extortion and doing illegal favours using his clout in the media business to accumulate illegal wealth and consequently causing huge loss to national exchequer."
Ravi Prakash is presently embroiled in a dispute with Alanda Media, which bought more than 90.54% stake in TV9 recently. The company has alleged that Ravi Prakash actively opposed Alanda's move to appoint four directors and he had 'malafide intention'.
In a recent complaint to the Banjara Hills police, Alanda alleged that Ravi Prakash drew a total of Rs 6.36 crore between September 2018 and May 2019, while Murthy drew Rs 5.97 crore during the same time period, and allegedly tried to pass it off as a bonus and ex-gratia with "antedated documents without passing a proper board resolution."
Alanda stated that the Board of Directors held a meeting on September 24, where they had detailed deliberations on the withdrawal of the amounts and decided to initiate legal proceedings to recover the money.
However, those close to Ravi Prakash have been pointing out that the complaint filed by Alanda was dated September 4 but mentions a Board meeting held on September 24. While the police attributed this to a typo and stated that the complaint was received on October 4, Ravi's aides point out that this would mean that the police investigated a financial fraud, which would require at least checking bank statements, in less than 18 hours.
Sources also pointed out that Ravi Prakash had been appearing at a police station frequently, and said that his arrest without serving a notice, was unwarranted. As far as allegations of drawing large amounts of money are concerned, they claim that this was a bonus which Ravi Prakash and the others were entitled to.
This is not the first time that Vijaya Sai Reddy, a close aide of Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Jagan Mohan Reddy, has lashed out at Ravi Prakash. In May this year, the YSRCP MP dubbed Ravi a 'traitor'.
Incidentally, Vijayasai Reddy himself is an accused in cases registered against him and Jagan under the PMLA. In 2012, the CBI had arrested Vijayasai Reddy in a quid-pro-quo case, and he had spent several months in jail.