The News Broadcasters Federation (NBF) has written to the Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC) following news reports in the media detailing the payment of a bribe by the Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC) to then-Assistant Police Inspector in the Mumbai Police, Sachin Vaze.
In a statement issued, NBF said that according to the news report, the Enforcement Directorate’s investigations into money laundering in the alleged TRP manipulation scam has led to a revelation that BARC paid a bribe to the tune of Rs 30 lakh to Sachin Vaze. The news report further revealed that BARC paid the bribe via a dummy company and transferred the money to shell companies and used the hawala route to get the money. The bribe money was then credited to the account of a Hawala operator. As per the report, the cash then received was used to pay the bribes.
NBF added, “Furthermore, according to information with us, BARC has admitted to the Enforcement Directorate that a bribe of Rs 30 lakh was paid, and the admission was made in late March 2021. These details indicate that there was a significant gap between the date of payment of the said bribe in late October 2020 and the date when an admission regarding the same was made to the agencies.”
NBF further wrote, “According to information with us, the Enforcement Directorate has carried out searches at the premises of a Delhi-based company through which the money was laundered. It appears that it was after investigations commenced that BARC made the admission regarding the payment of bribes.”
Calling the allegations “extremely serious and alarming”, NBF in its letter to BARC has posed the following questions and has sought an immediate response to them.
- Did BARC or any officials thereof pay Rs 30 lakh as a bribe to Sachin Vaze and/or his associates?
- If the answer to the above is yes, when was the said bribe paid?
- What was the understanding between Sachin Vaze & BARC and/or any of its officials?
- Who are the officials at BARC that are aware of this transaction?
- Did the CEO of BARC and/or any of the board members of BARC know about this bribe?
- The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (I&B) is the nodal Ministry for BARC. Did BARC inform the said Ministry about the bribe sought and bribe given?
- Were you aware when you paid the bribe that Sachin Vaze was actively playing a critical role in levelling false charges in the TRP case?
- Is it true that the bribe was paid in the duration when the News Broadcasters Federation was repeatedly writing to BARC regarding false charges against our member channels?
- Did BARC disclose to any authorities that a bribe was sought before making the said payment?
- Are you aware that under sections 8 and 9 of The Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988 (PC Act) payment of a bribe which has not been reported within 7 days by the bribe payer is punishable with imprisonment for a term which may extend to seven years?