The Law Enforcement (ED) Directorate has sought permission from a special court in Bengaluru to declare the US-based founder and CEO of the now liquidated start-up Devas Multimedia Private Limited, an economic offender on the run.
The ED has filed an application under the Fugitive Economic Offenders Act 2018, to declare Ramachandran Viswanathan an economic offender ahead of trial in a Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) case being prosecuted by the central agency for the failed 2005 satellite deal between Devas Multimedia and Isro’s trading arm, Antrix Corp.
Declaration of an individual as a fugitive economic offender will enable the ED to seek forfeiture of property belonging to the accused in India and abroad which is identified as the proceeds of economic crime.
The special court has yet to consider the request filed by ED earlier this month to declare the CEO of Devas Multimedia an economic offender. He had in April 2022 ordered the split of the indictment against Viswanathan and nine others on the grounds that the CEO of Dewas Multimedia had failed to respond to court summonses.
In March, the special court rejected an ED plea for a proclamation order against Viswanathan. The ED sought a proclamation order against the Devas Multimedia executive to compel him to appear before the Special Court in Bengaluru for the trial of a money laundering case filed against him and six others in 2018.
Viswanathan is a satellite communications entrepreneur in the United States and is the chairman of Omnispace LLC, a startup there, which assembles a constellation of satellites to power 5G from space, specifically to provide connectivity to areas remote areas where the land mobile network does not work. does not work.
Devas Multimedia and its investors, including major German telecommunications company Deutsche Telekom, are embroiled in a long legal battle across the world over the Indian government’s 2011 decision to cancel a 2005 satellite deal between Devas and Antrix. of Isro.
Viswanathan is among 10 people and entities charged with money laundering by the ED in an indictment filed in July 2018. Other defendants in the case include several senior officials from Devas, three of the firm’s subsidiaries. and a former executive director of Antrix Corporation. .