BJP leader Subramanian Swamy filed a petition against Times of India Group’s owners, Jain family, to various agencies seeking a probe on huge tax evasion and money laundering through shell companies. In his petition to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and other agencies, Swamy accused the largest media company Times of India Group majority shareholders Samir Jain, Vineet Jain and their mother Indu Jain of floating several shell firms and indulged in dubious buyback of stock exchange-listed shares from minority shareholders in covert ways and creating a huge tax loss.
In his 26-page long petition, Subramanian Swamy listed out various covert ways of tax evasion and money laundering through shell firms by Jain family members and urged Prime Minister to direct Income Tax, Enforcement Directorate (ED), the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), Department of Revenue Intelligence (DRI), the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) and Serious Frauds Investigation Office (SFIO) to probe into the frauds in the country’s biggest media group. Swamy pointed out that Times of India Group owning firm Bennett and Coleman Company Limited (BCCL) is controlled through eight shell firms, all located in the same address.
Some shell firms’ main function is shown as distribution of Times of India and Economic Times newspapers and these clear cases of money laundering by the Jain family and some shell companies, which are actually controlling the Group, are shown owning only a few computers as its assets, said Swamy.
All these eight shell firms Bharat Nidhi Ltd, Camac Commercial Company Limited, PNB Finance and Industries Limited, Sahu Jain Limited, Ashoka Marketing Limited, Ashoka Viniyoga Limited, Arth Udyog Limited, Combine Holding Ltd are listed in Stock exchanges. “Bulk of common control and ownership of BCCL and Bennet Property Holding Co Limited (BPHCL) lies with eight companies listed on regional stock exchanges which are non-functional and are referred to as Exclusively Listed Companies (ELCs),” said Swamy, adding that in all these companies the major shareholders are Jain family members with same address of Times of India newspaper.
Swamy charged Jains of trying to acquire the shares of minority shareholders of Bharat Nidhi Limited in a fraudulent way by under-invoicing the share price. Bharat Nidhi Limited (BNL) directly owns 24.41% and indirectly 45% of Bennett and Coleman Company Limited (BCCL). The actual valuation of BCCL ranges between Rs.1.2 lakh crores (120,000 crores) to 1.5 lakh crores (150,000 crores) now. The minority shareholders sensed fraud when the Jain family tried to buy back their shares at a cheap price of Rs.11,229 (value of one share), while the market value considered is Rs.2,31,186 per share.
Swamy pointed out that 20% of the share value is taxed as per Income Tax rules when the buyback offer is announced. So through this under-invoiced dubious buyback share of the listed company of Bharat Nidhi Limited, Jains are only paying tax of Rs.2243 per share, when they have to pay a tax of Rs.46,235 per share. The Jain family is trying to buy back the 1.5 lakh shares of BNL’s minority shareholders at a cheap price in covert ways violating SEBI rules and creating a tax loss of more than Rs.625 crores accused Swamy, urging action by the Income Tax Department against Samir Jain, Vineet Jain and their mother Indu Jain. He further accused that the total tax evasion by the Jain family must be above Rs.1000 crores, considering the number of minority shareholders and pointed out that around 300 minority shareholders have approached SEBI and Delhi High Court on this matter.
Swamy also urged SFIO to probe into the activities of eight shell firms owning Times of India Group which is also controlled by the Jain family. He pointed out that somehow dubiously the Jain family managed to deny voting rights to the minority shareholders and six percent of the Times of India Group rests with Government of India and the Government must intervene on the dubious activities of the Jain family in illegally controlling the affairs of the important Public Limited company Times of India Group.
In his 26-page petition, Swamy pointed out that in many controlling eight shell firms, Jain family’s cronies and Times of India staffers are appointed as Independent Directors. Some shell firms have no annual income and some are paying just Rs.792 as annual rent to Times of India for occupying their office premises. Some shell firms’ main function is shown as distribution of Times of India and Economic Times newspapers and these clear cases of money laundering by the Jain family and some shell companies, which are actually controlling the Group, are shown owning only a few computers as its assets, said Swamy. He also pointed out that some shell firms acquire each other in dubious ways too.
Subramanian Swamy’s 26-page petition against the Times of India Group’s illegalities and huge tax violations are published below: