Four years after the Business Line and The Hindu broke preliminary CAG findings in the 2005 Antrix-Devas agreement worth Rs.1,000 crore, the CBI has registered a case against Devas Multimedia Private Limited, the then Antrix Corporation Limited executive director and others for allegedly favouring an ineligible company in the deal.
Those facing allegations of cheating, conspiracy and corruption are then Antrix executive director K.R. Sridhara Murthi, R. Vishwanathan and M.G. Chandrasekhar (former ISRO scientist) of Forge Advisors LLC, USA; and Bengaluru-based Devas Multimedia, besides unknown officials of Antrix, ISRO and Department of Space.
‘Devas got Rs. 578 cr. via favours from Antrix’
The CBI has alleged that Antrix executive director K.R. Sridhara Murthi extended favours to Devas Multimedia by giving the rights for delivery of video, multimedia and information services via S-band, causing wrongful gain of Rs. 578 crore to the company. The company had submitted false information about its capability to deliver the services.
The agency, in a case registered against Devas and others, said the wrongful gain, of which R. Vishwanathan and M.G. Chandrasekhar (former ISRO scientist) of Forge Advisors LLC, U.S., were alleged beneficiaries, was made through various investors from the U.S., Mauritius, Singapore and other countries.
“Devas, with an intention to siphon off the amount from its bank accounts in India, got a subsidiary named Devas USA incorporated and transferred the funds to that firm on various pretext,” said a CBI official, adding that illegal gratification was apparently paid to accused government officials from that amount. Devas had allegedly been set up by Forge Advisors in 2004 with a share capital of merely Rs. 1 lakh. Days after the Business Line-The Hindu expose on February 7, 2011, the government cancelled the agreement under which ISRO’s marketing arm Antrix was required to provide 70 MHz of S-band spectrum to Devas.
Under the deal struck on January 28, 2005, 10 transponders in satellites GSAT-6 and GSAT-6A, then to be launched by ISRO for the purpose, were to be leased out to Devas for payments to be made over 12 years.
“Soon after the agreement, Mr. Chandrashekhar and Mr. Vishwanathan were appointed directors in Devas. The former held the highest number of company shares till 2008-09. The two, through U.S. firm Forge Advisors, took over control of Devas against the Shankara Committee recommendations,” said the official. While the government set up two committees to scrutinise the deal, the CBI initiated a preliminary inquiry last April.
2005 Antrix-Devas agreement: The Business Line-The Hindu expose
February 7, 2011:
CAG goes after another spectrum deal
The Antrix-Devas Multimedia agreement
Spectrum with government agencies should be monitored for efficient usage: TRAI
What’s the big deal about S-band?
What is Devas Multimedia?
Response from Devas
ISRO spectrum deal under review: Centre
BJP, Left want deal probed
Note for cancellation held up with ISRO
Trial spectrum given to Devas to be withdrawn soon: DoT
February 8, 2011:
What the PMO claims and what the facts are
February 11, 2011:
ISRO background note on agreement between Antrix and Devas
February 12, 2011:
Devas CEO’s letter dated February 11, 2011 to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh
February 17, 2011:
Antrix-Devas deal annulled.