NEW DELHI: The Enforcement Directorate (ED) has issued fresh summons to American millionaire Neville Roy Singham in connection with a money laundering investigation tied to the online news portal NewsClick. Singham, currently residing in Shanghai, China, faces accusations of spreading Chinese propaganda in India. The ED, invoking the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) through the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA), has summoned Singham for questioning, following a Delhi court's issuance of Letters Rogatory (LR) to record his statement. This marks the second summons to Singham since the initiation of the investigation in 2021.
The investigation gained momentum after the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) filed a case of Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act (FCRA) violation against NewsClick, naming Neville Roy Singham as an accused. The focus of the investigation extends to alleged links between NewsClick and China-associated entities, purportedly receiving funds to disseminate Chinese propaganda in India. The Enforcement Directorate had initially conducted raids on NewsClick's premises in Delhi's Saidulajab area in September 2021, citing charges of money laundering.
The case took a serious turn when the anti-terror law Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) was invoked to probe NewsClick's alleged involvement in broadcasting Chinese propaganda. The Enforcement Directorate's scrutiny into NewsClick has been extensive, involving the recording of statements from over 25 individuals implicated in the case. Among them is Prabir Purkayastha, the founder and Editor-in-chief of NewsClick.
The summons to Neville Roy Singham underscores the transnational nature of the investigation, as he is currently based in Shanghai, adding a layer of complexity to the legal proceedings. The ED's use of the PMLA highlights the financial dimensions of the case, indicating a thorough examination of monetary transactions associated with the alleged money laundering.
This development follows a concerted effort by Indian investigative agencies to address concerns related to foreign influence and propaganda in the media landscape. The interconnected legal actions, including the CBI case and the application of anti-terror laws, demonstrate the multi-agency approach in dealing with the nuanced aspects of this investigation.
As the investigation unfolds, the role of individuals like Neville Roy Singham and the connections between NewsClick and foreign entities are likely to be scrutinized further. The unfolding legal proceedings will be closely monitored for potential implications on media regulations and the broader issue of foreign influence in Indian media.