The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has launched a preliminary inquiry into some financial transactions carried out by the National Film Development Corporation (NFDC) over the past seven years.
According to a report published by ThePrint.in website, the investigating agency is looking into charges of financial embezzlement and irregularities by the corporation following a complaint from the Union information and broadcasting ministry.
The CBI sent a letter to the NFDC on 23 October, addressed to NJ Shaikh, director of finance. The letter said a preliminary inquiry had been initiated against the corporation and some media companies like Sun TV, UFO Movies and Anurag Kashyap Films with which it had financial dealings.
The agency said it would like to review the financial records of NFDC to check whether companies such as Sun TV Networks were overpaid for advertisements carried on their channels.
The letter also said the corporation appeared to have favoured UFO Movies over others for a few publicity slots and overpaid it.
NFDC also allegedly violated some of its own rules by giving advertisements to channels and companies not approved by the directorate of audio-visual publicity of the government.
The CBI letter said Sun TV Networks Pvt Ltd was overpaid Rs38,41,800 while UFO Movies was overpaid to the extent of Rs40,13,898.
Further, filmmakers Anurag Kashyap and Dibakar Banerjee were named for having received “unduly large sums of money” from the corporation.
Kashyap was paid over Rs62 lakh and Rs1.5 crore for That Girl In Yellow Boots (2011) and The Lunchbox (2013), respectively. Banerjee is also alleged to have received huge sums in his personal account. These cases violated the corporation’s rule that NFDC can only co-produce a venture, the letter said.
Kashyap denied the allegations to ThePrint.in and said the corporation was paid back its investment. Another co-producer on The Lunchbox (2013), Guneet Monga, echoed Kashyap’s denial and said the NFDC actually made a profit on the film.
Earlier this February, the information and broadcasting ministry, under Smriti Irani, had fired NFDC chief Nina Lath Gupta for alleged favouritism towards Sun TV Networks. Gupta had held her position for 12 years since 2006.
She rejoined NFDC after an order by the Delhi high court, but the ministry fired her again in May after giving her three months’ notice.