Bengaluru, Jun 10 (IANS): Ramachandran Vishawanathan, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Devas Multimedia Private Limited, has been declared as a fugitive economic offender by a special court here.
The 21st Additional City Civil and Sessions Judge, the special judge for CBI cases on Thursday declared Vishwanathan a Fugitive Economic Offender (FEO) while allowing an application filed by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) under Section 4 read with Section 10 and 12 of Fugitive Economic Offenders Act, 2018
Vishwanathan is one of the nine accused in a money laundering case filed by the ED in 2018. They were accused of diverting 85 per cent of the Rs 579 crore received from Indian Space Research Organisation's (ISRO) commercial arm Antrix Corporation to the US.
The investment was received under a satellite deal with Antrix Corporation signed in 2005. Under the deal, Devas was to use two satellites of ISRO for providing multimedia services in remote areas. However, the deal was annulled by the government in 2011.
Special public prosecutor P. Prasanna Kumar pleaded to the court to declare Vishwanathan a FEO and confiscate his properties.
Principal Special Judge K. L. Ashok noted that a Non-Bailable Warrant (NBW) is active against Vishwanathan.
The NBW was issued after the accused failed to appear before the court in response to the summons. The judge ruled that the requirement under Section 2 (F) of Fugitive Economic Offender Act is clearly applicable to Vishwanathan.
The trial court had issued two notices in December 2022 to appear before it. The notices were sent to him through the Ministry of External affairs but he failed to attend the hearing.
Vishwanathan, an Indian-origin businessman and a US citizen, had founded Devas in 2004 and signed multiple deals to build satellites.
The National Company Law Tribunal had liquidated Devas Multimedia in 2021. The CBI had initiated a case against the accused and the ED later filed a separate case.