BARC officials have given statements on the bribe payment to Waze, said a source. BARC had reportedly shown in its books that it had awarded some construction-related work on its premises and then transferred the money to the account of a dummy company.
BARC, through Hansa Group, installs barometers in select households to gauge viewing patterns and decide ratings. This agreement will be terminated on July 30.
After BARC made the payment to the account of a dummy company, it was layered through four more shell companies. It was then transferred to a hawala operator’s bank account, showing fictitious transactions. The sum was returned in cash to BARC, which was then handed over to Waze’s associate, an inspector.
The ED recorded the statement of a BARC employee and senior company executives, who reportedly confirmed it. But the ED is yet to question the crime branch inspector and Waze.
BARC had contracted Hansa for installing barometers at selected households and its monitoring. Hansa filed a police case last year, accusing its employee of manipulating TRP by paying money to households. Mumbai police commissioner Parambir Singh had assigned the investigation to the central intelligence unit (CIU) under Waze. Subsequently, the ED registered a money laundering case based on a Mumbai police FIR.
A source stated that Waze had been calling BARC executives along with officials of other companies associated with the case for questioning at his office on the premises of Mumbai police commissionerate headquarters in South Mumbai. The source said, “Waze used to tell BARC executives to wait outside his office for hours, even late in the evening, and then telling them to come the next day. Waze also created an impression that he beats up suspects during questioning and asked BARC to pay a Rs 30 lakh bribe if they want to avoid torture.”
Sources said the ED will include bribe details in the TRP money laundering case and enclose evidence gathered establishing the money trail. The ED will soon file its first chargesheet in the TRP laundering case.
Recently, the ED attached properties worth Rs 32 crore of Fakt Marathi, Box Cinema and Maha Movies channels in the case for generating advertising revenue through manipulated TRP. Box Cinema and Maha Movies had generated 25 % of their TRP in Mumbai with the help of five houses where the barometers were installed. Fakt Marathi had generated 12% of its TRP from the same number of houses. Officials stated that TRP was calculated on the basis of total time spent on a channel, and not according to number of households.