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CBI files charge sheet in Antrix-Devas deal case

CBI files charge sheet in Antrix-Devas deal case


The CBI on Thursday filed a charge sheet in the Antrix-Devas deal case naming ex-ISRO chairman G Madhavan Nair and other senior officials who have been accused of facilitating "wrongful" gain of Rs 578 crore to private multi-media company Devas by Antrix, the commercial arm of ISRO.

Besides Nair, others named in the charge sheet include the then Executive Director of Antrix K R Sridhar Murthy, former Managing Director of Forge Advisors and CEO of Devas Ramachandra Vishwanathan and the then Director of Devas M G Chandrasekhar.

The charge sheet filed at the designated court here also named former Additional Secretary in the Department of Space Veena S Rao, the then Director in ISRO A Bhaskar Narayana Rao and two directors of Devas Multi media D Venugopal and M Umesh.

The CBI accused them of having committed offences under various sections of the Indian Penal Code pertaining to cheating and certain provisions of Prevention of Corruption Act for allegedly being party to a criminal conspiracy with an intent to cause undue gain to themselves or others by abusing their official positions.

It has been 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.

The accused officials "thus caused wrongful gain of Rs 578 crore" to the private firm and its owners, CBI alleged.

The agency said a deal between Antrix and Devas was fixed in principle in January 2005 for lease of S-Band transponders.

However, the then Executive Director of Antrix signed it on six months later only after ensuring that Chandrashekhar and Vishwanathan became majority stakeholders in Devas. They continued in that position till 2009.

The change in the board, where a US company represented by Chandrashekhar and Vishwanathan had majority stakes, was never verified by Antrix as the agreement had been in violation of Shankara Committee recommendations which said execution of any such agreement should be entered into with an Indian company alone, it was contended.

Money had been transferred to the US company from the accounts of a Bangalore-based private company, the CBI alleged.

Further investigation is continuing regarding issues of demand of S-Band frequency by other users including Ministry of Defence for strategic purpose and Department of Telecom, the CBI said.

Nair had been questioned by the CBI in May this year during which he was asked about the details of the contract signed between Antrix Corporation and Devas Multimedia Private Limited on January 28, 2005. He was the chairman of ISRO and Secretary, Department of Space.

The charge sheet comes a month after India lost its arbitration case in an international tribunal over Antrix scrapping a deal with Devas and is liable to pay compensation which could run into millions of dollars.