Some weeks ago, my office received a big bundle of papers along with two DVDs by courier. The name and address of the recipient were Ranthambore Rana, resident of D-55, Defence Colony, New Delhi. I do not know any such person but the bunch of papers and the two DVDs contained very disturbing information. (When a Manushi volunteer went to check at the given address, we found someone else living there.)
They provide in-depth information with detailed documentation regarding an unholy partnership between Finance Minister P. Chidambaram and directors of premier TV channel—NDTV. It took me days to go through and make sense of these papers, which I also got vetted by a senior lawyer. Even so, I was diffident in putting this information in the public domain lest I make an error of judgement. However, on 6 December 2013, former Law Minister and now MP, Shri Ram Jethmalani sent a letter to Mr Chidambaram directly accusing him of receiving a bribe of Rs. 5000 crore and then getting it laundered by NDTV and harassing Srivastava who attempted to inquire into this economic offence. (Click here to view Srivastava’s account to his lawyers).
Chidambaram has not denied or rebutted anything. Rather, he offered to get himself inquired by his own subordinates. Following this exchange of letters between a former Law Minister and the present Finance Minister of the country, I felt compelled to share the information I had received with the public at large.
As per the information in these papers Chidambaram, whose job it is to stand guard over public money and state revenues, is allegedly involved in an Rs.-5,500 crore money laundering scam in collaboration with NDTV and consequent tax evasion of Rs. 3,500 crore. To facilitate this loot, two IRS officers of 1999 Batch were paid a huge amount of bribe and illegal gratification, including an ‘all expenses paid’ pleasure trip with the family to Europe for one officer while the other officer was sent on pleasure jaunt to Mauritius. This claim is supported by documentary evidence presented by Srivastava in the High Court.
The two DVDs I received contained a video-recorded conversation between S.K. Srivastava, 1987 batch Indian Revenue Service Officer and a small team of lawyers. After having studied the papers and going over the video-recorded conversation twice over, I phoned S.K. Srivastava and asked for an appointment. I met him with a Manushi volunteer at his residence in Pandara Park, in the hope of interviewing him to confirm or refute the authenticity of those documents and the DVDs. He took no time in confirming that the papers were genuine and that he stood by all that was stated in those IRS and court documents. However, he said he had no idea how the conversation got to be recorded or why and who sent me the DVDs. When I tried probing him further, he refused to answer them saying that as a government official he is not allowed to speak to the media or give interviews for public consumption. However, he did share the names and phone numbers of his lawyers, including that of Advocate S.K. Gupta (mob. no.: 9811211218), who has for years defended him in court against powerful adversaries like NDTV and Chidambaram.
From his house, I headed for the Supreme Court chamber of Advocate S.K. Gupta (chamber No. 57, Old Lawyers Chambers), who also confirmed the authenticity of the documents. He saw the two DVDs on his computer monitor and confirmed that that the particular conversation recorded on the DVD indeed took place in his office. But, he said he had no idea how and why it came to be video recorded.
The battle waged by S.K. Srivastava is no less mind-boggling and benumbing than that of ISRO scientist Nambi Narayanan against forces out to subvert India. (For details of Nambi Narayanan’s battle, read RB Shreekumar: Hero of the Secular Brigade – Part I, How India’s Space Program was Sabotaged — Nambi Narayanan Describes the Targeting of ISRO by Shreekumar Masterminded Team of IB Officials Part II, Third Degree Torture by IB Officials of ISRO Scientist and Others – PART III
His lawyer said that Srivastava was fighting more than 100 cases in civil and criminal courts right up to the Supreme Court of India against NDTV and corrupt IRS officers who are hand-in-glove with these tax-evaders and money launderers. As per Srivastava’s lawyer, these cases have been allegedly engineered by NDTV and a host of corrupt IRS officers working allegedly at Chidambaram’s behest to break Srivastava’s resolve to unearth this scam and have the guilty punished.
The papers reveal how Srivastava when he could not be coaxed or threatened into submission by NDTV and its agents within the Income Tax department from exposing the huge scam, was issued four charge sheets and repeatedly put under suspension—totalling to a period of more than 3 years—allegedly due to the personal vested interests of Chidambaram on illegal grounds and false charges of sexual harassment of two female IRS officers. The officers are alleged to have received huge bribe and illegal gratification and one of them had even got her spouse (Abhisar Sharma) employed by NDTV while she was its Assessing Officer, while another was in charge of the foreign tax division (FTD) of the CBDT and personally camped in Mauritius to arrange transfer of money laundered by NDTV through U.K. subsidiary.
Two Delhi-based women IRS officers, who are allegedly partners in the NDTV scam, were set up to make false allegations of sexual harassment against Srivastava. But he put together a pile of evidence to prove to the court and to the official enquiries that the two women officers were on the payroll of NDTV. Both these women were proved liars in court for lodging false complaints. Srivastava also managed to get his suspension orders quashed by the Central Administrative Tribunal since they were patently illegal. By all accounts, Srivastava had an outstanding service record and was found to have merely done his duty with due diligence. Therefore, he could get his suspension orders quashed by the court. Since, in 2010, Chidambaram was no longer at the helm of affairs in the Finance Ministry, the government not only accepted those orders but also implemented them!
Chidambaram has also tried transferring Srivastava far away from Delhi but Srivastava was successful in getting his Mangalore transfer quashed by CAT because it was found to be politically motivated.
It is noteworthy that the previous Finance Minister, Mr Pranab Mukherjee who is now the President of India, had allowed the investigations initiated by Srivastava to go on! But after Chidambaram became Finance Minister, he is alleged to have taken an active interest in keeping Srivastava from investigating the illegal activities of NDTV and its directors—just as in his capacity as the Home Minister, he did not allow CBI to cooperate in the 2G scam investigations regarding money laundering by NDTV, as requested by Srivastava before the court of CBI Special Judge Saini.
Srivastava, in his submission in the 2G scam case, had alleged that NDTV has laundered a huge chunk of this money for compromised politicians. Chidambaram as Home Minister got two FIRs registered against Srivastava for reporting about the corruption of those two female IRS officers of 1999 Batch. The ostensible charge was that Srivastava had outraged their modesty and committed offences U/s 509 of IPC, 1860.
As part of their resolve to browbeat Srivastava, vested interests in collusion with NDTV obtained a mischievous medical report from a private hospital, VIMHANS, Delhi that Srivastava is suffering from a mental disorder and, therefore, whatever he says doesn’t merit being taken seriously by the court. Srivastava describes in the video recording how he defeated that conspiracy by getting himself examined by doctors in five reputed government hospitals like AIIMS, Hindu Rao and Safdarjang. This medical report was later withdrawn by VIMHANS at the mere hint of an inquiry by the Medical Council of India (MCI).
Advocate S.K. Gupta says he has been again and again offered inducements and enticements by NDTV and a host of corrupt IRS officers to stop him from defending and protecting Srivastava. Nevertheless, he has withstood all those pressures because he believes in the rightness of Srivastava’s cause.
The full text of the SK Srivastava’s discussion with his lawyers is available at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UIEHcitqivk
This is not a sting operation, nor am I exposing anything “secret”. S.K. Srivastava’s battle has been going on in the courts for several years now. The documents that I received are part of court records and hence in the public domain.
We are posting the unedited version of the DVDs sent to me (barring a small section, which has unsubstantiated charges, unlike the rest of the conversation) because the case has been successfully hushed up by the media for obvious reasons. A brief summary of the case is given below:
Srivastava’s Allegation against P. Chidambram
- That P. Chidambaram received several thousand crores by way of bribes, which NDTV laundered through dummy companies. Using his power positions, Mr Chidambaram has scuttled all attempts at the inquiry.
- P. Chidambaram’s counter case: S.K. Srivastava is indisciplined and should be removed from government service. CBDT under P. Chidambaram told the Delhi High Court that Srivastava’s “performance … has not been satisfactory” and “the department … are not satisfied with the manner of his work”.
A Partial List of NDTV’S Alleged Illegal Acts:
No 1: SCAM OF RS. 5,500 CRORE PLUS:
- NDTV allegedly laundered Rs. 5,500 crore by raising funds through “private placements”, from undisclosed investors in NDTV subsidiaries based in UK and Holland.
- The sums raised by it through dubious investors not only paid off its Rs.-3,500 crore liability but left an amount in excess of Rs. 2,000 crore to be transferred to another account.
- These funds were transferred to a Mauritius-based NDTV subsidiary.
- These funds were then routed to several other NDTV subsidiaries in India.
- These Indian subsidiaries were later merged with NDTV Ltd., India without giving a fair shareholding right to the companies of Mauritius or UK or Holland.
- Shockingly, both, the UK- and Holland-based NDTV subsidiaries, were closed down and so was the Mauritius company!
- Why would investors in UK and Holland allow such actions if this were not a plain money-laundering scheme?
- At present dollar values, with penalties and interest, the scam exceeds Rs. 5,500 crore.
- Shockingly, none of the UK- and Holland-based subsidiaries of NDTV appeared in the annual reports filed that year by NDTV India and subsequently, no critical details were provided to the relevant ministry when special intimation was filed before it for condoning the lapse. None was asked for either!
It is alleged by Srivastava that this money itself is “illegal”; it is not a case of undeclared business profits or money on which income tax has not been paid. It is money transferred out of the country, received as bribes by ministers, politicians or public servants or just one unknown politician through the same hawala route that terrorists use!
No 2: SCAM OF RS. 300 CRORE:
- NDTV allegedly showed false exports to Star TV in Hong Kong under section 80 HHF of the Income Tax Act. This act defrauded the government of revenue worth at least Rs. 300 crore at present value.
- NDTV claimed illegal income tax deductions without making any actual exports and by bringing in Indian rupees instead of foreign exchange as stipulated in supporting judgements!
- This deduction was allowed by an Income Tax officer Sumana Sen (IRS 99005) whose husband, Abhisar Sharma, has been an employee of NDTV, a fact that she had concealed all through her employment.
- Going against service conduct rules, Sumana Sen accepted a gift of a luxurious all expenses paid European holiday from NDTV, whereby the latter allegedly also paid her shopping bills. All this totals to an expense of Rs. 1 crore. She filed false reports that her involvement with NDTV was in her official capacity. She claimed eligibility for accepting this Rs. 1 crore holiday as one of the perks allowed to her husband as an employee of NDTV. Records show that NDTV has incurred no such expense on any of its employees, including Abhisar Sharma. Srivastava’s allegation that it was a bribe to Sumana Sen for giving undue tax rebates to NDTV has been backed by solid documentary evidence.
- Sumana Sen failed to inform the Income Tax Department that her husband was an NDTV employee while she was handling their tax matters. This is an obvious case of conflict of interest. In fact, she manipulated her transfer to the Circle under whose jurisdiction NDTV and its directors—including Prannoy Roy, Radhika Roy, Barkha Dutt, Vikram Chandra, etc.—come for the purpose of income tax assessment.
- In order to pre-empt S.K. Srivastava from proceeding with these inquiries, Sumana Sen and her collaborationist filed false charges of sexual harassment against S.K. Srivastava. Srivastava alleges that P. Chidambaram had set up these women and used their false cases to suspend him and harass him through various unholy means.
- Ashima Neb undertook a tour of Mauritius with her companion for about 10 days and incurred huge expenditure on shopping, hotel stay, etc. while claiming to spend a princely sum of Rs. 60,000 only on everything from air travel to a hotel stay to local travelling to shopping to food, et-all! for both, she and her companion accompanying her.
- All these cases against Srivastava were quashed yet P. Chidambaram continues to harass him and has set up another illegal inquiry that has been stayed by the Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT). Even though P. Chidambaram has been named by Srivastava in the inquiry, Chidambaram has not had the courage to file a reply. (Here is the link to the departmental inquiry report vindicating Sanjay Srivastava on Sexual harassment charges: http://www.scribd.com/doc/175789159/NDTV-money-laundering-Annexure-9?secret_password=2jpv6pecii7osi9fos63)
NO. 3 – SCAM OF RS. 1.46 CRORE:
In the same Assessment Year, Sumana Sen allowed tax refund of Rs. 1.46 crore to NDTV instead of implicating it in the above scams! She handed the cheque to NDTV through her husband Abhisar Sharma, then an NDTV employee (a direct conflict of interest, not statutorily disclosed by her, therefore illegal), in gross violation of the rules of refunding dues! The refund was not admissible and she passed illegal orders to illegally pay money to NDTV from government accounts!
Due to the relentless battle waged by Srivastava and because of some still remaining honest IRS officers like the incumbent CIT, Delhi V and his subordinates, the I.T. Deptt. in Delhi could no longer ignore the fraud and loot of the public exchequer and public money. It has now succeeded in levying income tax on Rs. 900 crores of laundered money in one assessment year alone, i.e., 2009-10. Another Rs. 2000 crore of laundered money and bribe paid to public servants is under consideration for similar action.
The fraudulent acts and conduct of NDTV are made out from their abject inability to cross-examine Srivastava who recorded his statement on oath and offered to be cross-examined by NDTV. Nor could it rebut documentary evidence submitted by Srivastava to the I.T. Deptt.
But, all because of Chidambaram’s clout, the Dispute Resolution Panel (the DRP II, Delhi) of the Income Tax Department still managed to save NDTV and Chidambaram himself, as it did not ask for the list of investors who contributed the Pound Sterling 300 million to NDTV and its subsidiary in the UK, and then forgot to recover their money as that would have revealed the link of Chidambaram with NDTV, as alleged by Srivastava. The DRP has not exercised its powers to order a search of NDTV to recover that list and the Member (Inv.), CBDT, who is known to be a blue-eyed boy of Chidambaram and was deputed by him to harass the Chief Minister of his home state, has simply turned a blind eye to this case to cover up the link between NDTV and Chidambaram.
There is a lot more to this case than the above-mentioned scams.
Since Srivastava’s battle is unlikely to get a proper hearing in mainstream media, I am posting his account in Hindi on YouTube.
Was all this material sent to me because I am seen as someone similarly battling mainstream media’s partisan conduct and conspiratorial silence on many issues?
I am in no position to judge these issues but feel strongly that this case deserves to be known widely at least through the social media so that the government can be pressured into starting a fair probe into these allegations.
For viewing S.K. Srivastava’s account to his lawyers, click here for video.
(Links to Ram Jethmalani letters: http://www.scribd.com/doc/190072062/Ram-Jethmalani-s-letter-to-P-Chidambaram-in-NDTV-money-laundering-matter, http://www.scribd.com/doc/193677788/P-Chidambaram%E2%80%99s-reply-to-Ram-Jethmalani-and-Ram-Jethmalani-s-reply-to-P-Chidambaram-in-NDTV-money-laundering-matter)