ED Investigates the Funding of a Chinese Regime Businessman’s Media Portal | India News


NEW DELHI: The Enforcement Branch’s investigation into a money laundering case against the media portal Newsclick and its promoters shines the spotlight on their financial dealings with Neville Roy Singham, a native businessman Sri Lankan-Cuban investigators identified as the main source of Rs 38 crore that PPK Newsclick Studio Pvt Ltd received between 2018 and 2021 from overseas.
Sources at the agency, who mapped the flow of funds to the outlet, alleged that Singham was associated with the propaganda arm of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).
They also claimed that the investigation established that part of the money Newsclisck allegedly received from foreign sources went to activists such as Gautam Navlakha, one of the defendants in the Elgar Parishad case. The anti-money laundering agency recently asked Navlakha in prison about his association with Newsclick founder and editor Prabir Purkayastha.
Most of the money received by the portal has been billed as proceeds from “export of services”.
Contacted by TOI, Purkayastha denied claims that Singham was a front for the CCP and his outlet’s ties to the Chinese regime. He said Singham is an American citizen who started and ran a software company in the United States before selling it for around $ 700 million to $ 800 million. “All of our funds come from legitimate sources and well-known foundations in the United States in accordance with RBI guidelines,” Purkayastha said.
ED sources said their investigations showed the media portal had received funding from Justice and Education Fund Inc, United States; GSPAN LLC, United States; Tricontinental Ltd Inc, USA – all at the same address – and Centro Popular Demidas, Brazil.
ED sources said the agency’s searches of the premises of PPK Newsclick shareholders in February this year resulted in regular e-mails relating to the Communist Party of China (CCP), an accusation denied by Newsclick editor-in-chief Prabir Purkayastha.
“If they have something against us, let them file all these facts in the indictment in court. We are ready to stand trial and answer all of these charges, ”said the founder of Newsclick, who recently successfully asked the court to stop ED from taking coercive action against him. He expressed his inability to comment on ED’s claim that Singham was working. outside China, but said it was possible the businessman was located there during the pandemic because he found it to be safer.
ED sources said the payments to Newsclick were tied to “specific jobs” like strengthening China’s role in Africa, where it drew accusations of dominance and predatory capitalism, and defending repression Communist Regime Against Jack Ma, Promoter Of Alibaba Giant E-commerce
They said the agency was also investigating payments of large sums to reporters for any irregularities. In addition, Purkayastha was asked about paying money to a certain Bappaditya Sinha, a CPM member who manages the Twitter accounts of some party leaders. When asked, Purkayastha acknowledged Newsclick’s ties to Sinha, but said Sinha was paid for the software services he provided. “There is nothing wrong with it,” he said.
In addition to ED, other agencies are looking at the “Chinese angle” in the case, in particular the alleged CCP surrogate funding to build a “media narrative” in India that suits Beijing’s interests. . The investigation looks set to extend to Singham’s ties to a senior politician.
During his questioning by ED officials, Purkayastha was asked to provide details of the services his company exported, for which he had received around Rs 28.5 crore (between 2018 and 2021). He was also asked to explain how funds amounting to crore started flowing from overseas to Newsclick a few months after the company’s launch, sources added.
While monitoring financial transactions, the agency came across a payment of Rs 1.55 crore to an electrician and Purkayastha was asked to provide information on the “nature of the work” performed by the latter.
Purkayastha said the government has sent the income tax, the economic offenses wing of the Delhi police and the ED behind them, presumably because they are not pro-government. “Everyone has the same set of questions regarding the source of our funds and the people associated with us,” he said.
He defended the part of the company valued at more than Rs 11,000 each as a “fair valuation” of the company, the valuation of which was carried out in a professional manner, as is the case for any startup. .
Fearing that he would be arrested, the Newsclick editor went to the Delhi High Court to ask for early bail. The court granted him protection from any “coercive action” by the ED until July 29, when the case is scheduled for hearing.


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