The ministry of corporate affairs is keeping a close watch on the financial dealings of the shell companies that reportedly own a substantial stake in investigative magazine Tehelka.
"Though there is no plan to order a probe right now, the ministry is keeping a close watch and in case the stakeholders raise any concerns, the ministry can take it up," a senior official in the ministry source told HT.
A report in Firstpost.com claims that in 2006, Tehelka founder Tarun Tejpal's family and former managing editor Shoma Chaudhury made huge profits by selling some of their shares at "mind-boggling premiums" to a nondescript company that simply vanished after a few years.
Though Agni Media Pvt Ltd (now Anant Media Pvt Ltd), the company that owns Tehelka, had run up massive losses, Chaudhury was able to sell 500 shares in the company for Rs. 66 lakh. She had bought them just three years previously for Rs. 5,000. The sale price represented a premium of Rs. 13,189 for each Rs. 10 share, the website reported.
Similarly, Tejpal's wife Geetan Batra made a profit of about Rs. 2.64 crore on an initial investment of Rs. 20,000 in 2,000 Anant Media shares. Tejpal's parents also earned profits of Rs. 1.32 crore each and his sister Rs. 57 lakh, Firstpost.com said.
The buyer in above cases was AK Gurtu Holding Pvt Ltd, which, the website claimed, did not have any presence at the address mentioned in Tehelka's records.
Some other companies were also involved in other deals.
"A few of these may be front companies and exist only on paper," said the government official.
Tejpal and Chaudhury did not respond to calls, messages or e-mails from Hindustan Times. Trinamool Congress parliamentarian KD Singh who through his group firm holds close to 35% stake in Anant Media told HT: "I was never involved with the management of Tehelka. So, I am simply not in a position to say anything about the purchase and sale of shares by anybody associated with Tehelka."
Anant Media Pvt Ltd incurred losses of around 2013 crore in 2011-12.