June 14, 2019 / 4:34 PM / 4 months ago

SEBI bars news channel NDTV from accessing capital markets

The logo of the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) is pictured on the premises of its headquarters in Mumbai, India March 1, 2017. REUTERS/Shailesh Andrade/File Photo

NEW DELHI (Reuters) - India’s market regulator on Friday barred the founders of news television channel New Delhi Television Ltd (NDTV) from the country’s capital markets for the next two years.

The Securities and Exchange Board of India, which is looking into allegations of fraud over a multi-million-dollar loan secured by NDTV, also barred its founders, Prannoy and Radhika Roy, from holding any managerial position for the next two years.

“The loan agreements were unmistakably structured as a scheme to defraud the investors,” the SEBI said in its order.

Federal authorities first launched an investigation into the founders of NDTV in 2017 and later brought a case against the couple — seen as pioneers of private news channels in India — in a move the company had said was an attempt to muzzle free speech.

The same year Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) raided the couple’s New Delhi home as well as two holiday houses, prompting protests by Indian journalists, who described the raid as an attack on the freedom of press.

NDTV had called the raids a witch-hunt. NDTV officials were not available for comment on the latest developments.

The CBI had said the investigation had no link to the editorial side of the NDTV, India’s oldest English-language news channel.

Reporting by Mayank Bhardwaj; additional reporting by Abhirup Roy in MUMBAI

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