Antrix-Devas deal: ED attaches assets over Rs 79 crore



Representational image

The Enforcement Directorate (ED) has attached assets worth over Rs 79 crore in connection with its money laundering probe in the Antrix-Devas deal.

The agency said, the attached assets worth over Rs 79.76 crore of Devas Multimedia Private Limited, Bengaluru, are in the “form of upfront capacity reservation fee available with ISRO as well as in the form of mutual fund and bank deposits.”

The assets were attached on the basis of a provisional order issued by the ED under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA).

The Enforcement Directorate (ED) had taken over the case based on a CBI FIR which alleged that Devas had illegally entered into an agreement with ISRO and its commercial arm Antrix Corporation Limited (ACL) by fraudulently representing certain facts.

It further alleged that after entering into the agreement, Devas collected investments from abroad through criminal conspiracy.

Antrix had signed a deal with Devas in 2005 to provide it with crucial S-Band wavelength, which is primarily kept for strategic interests of the country.

“On January 28, 2005 Ms Devas Multimedia Private Limited Bangalore, falsely claimed that it had the ownership and intellectual property rights to use the technology for delivering multi-media services (to) enter into an agreement with ISRO/ACL,” the ED said in a statement.

It said, “Few employees of ISRO/ACL also conspired with Devas for entering into the agreement.”

“On the strength of the said agreement, Devas raised foreign investment of Rs 579.07 crore. Devas also incorporated its subsidiary company in America in the name of Ms Devas Multimedia America Inc. and out of the total foreign investment raised, an amount of Rs 761.90 crore was transferred to it as investment,” the ED said.

It added that an “amount of Rs 180.77 crore was also transferred to its subsidiary in America in the guise/pretext of providing business support services and a further amount of Rs 230.11 crore was spent as legal fee and out of the said amount a major portion was transferred to USA in the guise/pretext of legal fee.”

The agency claimed that the agreement entered by Devas with the ISRO/ACL is “illegal” as Devas didn’t have any technology/ownership of intellectual property rights to deliver the multimedia services.

It said “the main purpose” of entering into the agreement with ISRO/ACL was to raise foreign investments.

“The subject company never did any major business in India other than providing internet services to about 20-25 customers in Bangalore. However, nearly 85 per cent of the foreign investment raised was siphoned off out of India in the guise/pretext of investment or services or fee,” it alleged.

The agency said, it also searched the premises of Devas here in January and recorded statements of few of its executives.

The ED, last year, had slapped a Rs 1,200-crore show cause notice under the Foreign Exchange Management Act in the same deal case.

The spectrum, as part of the Antrix-Devas deal, was meant for running digital multimedia service by leasing 90 per cent transponders on two satellites GSAT-6 and GSAT-6A.