Sci-Tech

CBI accuses Ex-ISRO chief Nair in Antrix fraud of RS 578 crore

August 12, 2016 06:43 AM
former ISRO Chairman G. Madhavan Nair

New Delhi: The Central Bureau of Investigation on Thursday filed a charge sheet against former ISRO Chairman G. Madhavan Nair and other senior officials in the Antrix-Devas deal case for allegedly facilitating a wrongful gain of Rs.578 crore to Devas Multimedia Private Limited.

The charge sheet has been filed in a Delhi court days after the commercial arm of ISRO, Antrix Corporation lost its case in the international tribunal of arbitration in The Hague over cancellation of the contract.

“It is alleged that the government officials abused their position to favour Devas by giving them rights for delivery of videos, multimedia content and information services to mobile phones using S-Band through GSAT-6 and GSAT-6A satellites and terrestrial systems in India. They, thus, caused a wrongful gain of Rs.578 crore to the private firm and its owners,” said CBI spokesperson R.K. Gaur.

Senior officials included

Besides Mr. Nair, those named in the charge sheet include former Additional Secretary in the Department of Space Veena S. Rao, then ISRO Director A. Bhaskar Narayana Rao and Executive Director of Antrix K.R. Sridhara Murthi. Mr. Nair, then Secretary, Department of Space, had been questioned by the CBI in May.

The agency said the Managing Director of Forge Advisors (U.S.A.) and CEO of Devas, Ramachandra Vishwanathan, former ISRO scientist M.G. Chandrasekhar, and two directors of Devas Multimedia M. Umesh and D. Venugopal have also been named. The CBI has pressed conspiracy, cheating and corruption charges against the accused.

“It is alleged that the government officials abused their position to favour Devas by giving them rights for delivery of videos, multimedia content and information services to mobile phones using S-Band through GSAT-6 and GSAT-6A satellites and terrestrial systems in India. They, thus, caused a wrongful gain of Rs.578 crore to the private firm and its owners,” said CBI spokesperson R.K. Gaur.


They continued to hold the positions till 2009.The CBI has alleged that while the deal for lease of S-Band transponders was decided in principle between Antrix and Devas in January 2005, the then Antrix Executive Director signed it six months later after Mr. Chandrasekhar and Mr. Vishwanathan became the majority stakeholders in Devas.

The CBI probe revealed that when a proposal for budgetary support of Rs.269 crore for approving design, manufacture and launch of GSAT-6/INSAT-4E (PS1) was placed at the 104th meeting of the Space Commission on May 26, 2005, it was allegedly not informed that an agreement for leasing out the S-Band had already been struck with Devas.

It alleges that the Space Commission’s approval was obtained by keeping it in the dark.

While a note for the Cabinet for building GSAT-6 satellite was submitted on November 17, 2005, the information on the Devas-Antrix agreement was allegedly suppressed.

‘Wrong information’

“Wrong information regarding utilisation of satellite capacity was given to the Cabinet with respect to multiple expressions of interest. The Cabinet approval the proposal in December 2005,” said the CBI.

According to the CBI, the change in the company’s board, where a U.S. company represented by Mr. Chandrasekhar and Mr. Vishwanathan had majority stakes, was never verified by Antrix. The agreement was allegedly in violation of Shankara Committee recommendations, according to which any such agreement should be entered into with an Indian company alone.

 

The agency also alleges that Bengaluru-based Devas siphoned off and transferred a large part of the “wrongful gain” to a U.S.-based subsidiary.

“Further investigations into the issues of demand of S-Band frequencies by other users, including the Defence Ministry and the Department of Telecom, the digital video broadcasting technology developed by ETSI, affairs of the U.S.-based company, foreign investments to, and funds transferred by, the Bengaluru-based company, are under way,” said Mr. Gaur.

 

Have something to say? Post your comment