By Sanjeev Sharma and Sugandha Rawal
New Delhi, Feb 8 (IANS) A complaint has been filed seeking a probe into Mukul Deora’s alleged benami entity and benamidar Swiss bank account, used for development funding the Netflix film, ‘The White Tiger’.
The formal request for investigation was sent to Enforcement Directorate (ED) into the dealings of late Congress politician Murli Deora’s son, Mukul Deora, his chartered accountant Sharad Seksaria, and also Netflix. The request to probe Mukul Deora’s shell companies was made by Sonia Mudbhatkal, Founder and CEO of the New Jersey-based Continuum Media LLC.
Reacting to the charges on Monday evening, Mukul Deora pointed out Delhi High Court has already observed that it was not possible to come to any prima facie conclusion that, by producing or releasing the film, the Defendants had indulged in illegal copyright infringement or transgressed the right of the Plaintiff, as was being alleged.
Earlier, Mudbhatkal said in her complaint to ED: “I wanted to lodge a formal request for an investigation into the dealings of Congress politician Murli Deora’s son Mukul Deora and his CA (and Director of all Mukul Deora and Milind Deora companies), Sharad Seksaria, and also Netflix who is their accomplice as they are in the know of all these various shell companies, and have done a deal with such companies knowingly in violation of John Hart and my (the original copyright holders and producers of the film, The White Tiger) copyright and producing rights of the picture, and in, potentially, gross violation of our country’s laws.”
Mukul is one of the producers of the film while Milind Deora, a former Congress MP, is his brother.
“Mukul Deora’s lawyer Sandeep Sethi openly admits that the Irish offshore entity Particle Media (Mukul’s benami entity), which on paper belongs to Raj Lakhani (Mukul Deora’s benamidar, who is a Hong Kong resident and British Passport holder as told to us) is in fact Mukul Deora’s company”, the complaint said.
“I have all the documentary evidence to prove the above beyond doubt including the BSI bank Swiss bank account cheque used for the transaction from Hong Kong. BSI Bank was subsequently shut down for money laundering in 2016,” Mudbhatkal said in the complaint.
“I would like you to take an urgent look at this matter as the film The White Tiger is playing worldwide in violation of not only John and my rights but also, potentially, India’s laws,” she added.
There has been some legal action on this issue, as Mudbhatkal’s advocates had sent a legal notice to Netflix in 2019, to stop production of The White Tiger.
The notice mentioned that Particle Media is in the process of shutting down, and the advocates suspected that Mukul Deora has transferred the motion picture rights of the film to a Singapore entity in order to become sole owner of The White Tiger in violation of the rights of Mudbhatkal, in breach of contractual commitments made by Mukul Deora to Mudbhatkal.
Later on Monday, Mukul Deora issued a statement reacting to the charges.
“I have a deep respect for and full faith in the judiciary of India. As you are aware, on 21 January 2021, upon a holistic consideration of the facts, the Hon’ble Delhi High Court, among other things, rejected the demand by the Plaintiffs and refused to stay the release of The White Tiger. I understand that the Delhi High Court observed that it was not possible, based on the material on record before it, to come to any prima facie conclusion that, by producing or releasing the film, the Defendants indulged in illegal copyright infringement or transgressed the right of the Plaintiff as was alleged in the matter. The matter is currently subjudice and I look forward to the completion of the legal proceedings in this matter. The truth will continue to prevail,” read Mukul Deora’s complete statement.
By Sanjeev Sharma and Sugandha Rawal