Sources said the statements of the FIIs will help conclusively prove how much money Peter and Indrani allegedly siphoned off to global tax havens
The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has unearthed details of investments made from Singapore in companies owned by media baron Peter Mukerjea, sources told mid-day.
Significantly, four foreign institutional investors have agreed to share details of their investments in Mukerjea’s company and also reveal how he siphoned off the same. CBI sources said the statements of the FIIs will help conclusively prove how much of cash Mukerjea and his wife, Indrani, allegedly siphoned off to global tax havens.
In its remand application, the CBI has contended that Mukerjea revealed investments running into crores of rupees in fixed deposits and immovable properties in Britain and India in 2010-2011, but did not disclose the source of the funds. The CBI told the court that Mukerjea had several financial transactions abroad, which needed to be probed.
The CBI, it is reliably learnt, will soon involve the Enforcement Directorate to expand the ambit of the probe to Mukerjea’s web of overseas financial transactions. Among those who have agreed to cooperate with the CBI is a Singapore-based audit firm that had pointed out that Mukerjea and Indrani had siphoned off huge amounts from INX, the television news channel they founded.
Interestingly, a few investors and subsequent shareholders of INX – a few entrepreneurs – have already faced the ED heat on other financial matters. “There is not much cash in his accounts in Singapore or in the accounts he once operated and closed,” said sources within the CBI, which on Tuesday sought remand of Mukerjea till Thursday from a special court in Delhi.
The CBI told the court Mukerjea was not cooperating and was “deliberately concealing facts” pertaining to murder and disposal of the victim’s body and his financial status. The investigating agency is also probing a number of accounts the couple once operated but closed later.
The Mukerjeas operated three HDFC accounts, two Barclays accounts and one Kotak Mahindra account — Peter and Indrani are joint account holders of all these accounts. “But there were not too many financial dealings in these accounts, and we suspect the family has siphoned off a large chunk of his earnings to safe havens abroad,” claimed the source.
The investigating agency is also looking into documents pertaining to a visit to Bangkok Mukerjea undertook with Sheena a year before her murder. “We are probing if Mukerjea made any investments in Bangkok,” the sources said. Wealthy Indians have routinely invested in real estate across Thailand, especially in coastal destinations.
The CBI, which expects Mukerjea’s total asset value to be a little over Rs 1,300 crore, is likely to make a few more arrests, especially of those who were involved in financial dealings with Mukerjea. Mukerjea, the sources claimed, has also informed the CBI that he often heard Indrani telling him that Sheena married the son of a diamond merchant based in Nagpur and then shifted to the United States.
“We are trying to ascertain if it is a lie or if there is truth in his claim,” claimed the sources. Mukerjea, in fact, told CBI that on April 26, 2012, nearly 24 hours after Bora was allegedly murdered, his wife made him speak to a woman she identified as Sheena. But many such conversations, claim CBI sources, are “only to hoodwink the investigation process”.