In yet another attempt to defame India, businessman Ramachandran Viswanathan, who has been declared as an “economic offender” by the ED, has published a full-page newspaper advertisement in the US, calling for sanctions against several high-ranking officials including finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman.
India’s anti-financial crime agency, the Enforcement Directorate (ED) has moved a court application under India’s Fugitive Economic Offenders Act, 2018 against Viswanathan, who heads Bengaluru-based Devas Multimedia Limited and 5G solutions provider Omnispace.
In August this year, Viswanathan filed a petition in the US, demanding the Biden administration to sanction 11 high-profile Indian officials including Supreme Court judges.
The sanction petition was filed under the 2016 Global Magnitsky Act along with Executive Order 13818 which authorises the US government to sanction foreign government officials worldwide who are deemed serious human rights offenders. If sanctioned, the assets of such officials can be frozen and they can be restricted from entering America.
In the newspaper advertisement, Viswanathan called the group of 11 Indians – including Supreme Court judges Hemant Gupta and V Ramasubramanian, ED director Sanjay Kumar Mishra, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, additional solicitor general N Venkataraman, Antrix Crop Ltd managing director Rakesh Sasibhushan – as ‘Modi’s Magnitsky 11’.
The petition was brought forth by the US-based humanitarian organisation ‘Frontiers of Freedom’ on his behalf.
“These Modi Government officials have decimated the rule of law by weaponising the institutions of the state to settle scores with political and business rivals, making India unsafe for investors,” the advertisement reads.
It further says, “We have asked the US government to impose economic and visa sanctions against them under the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act. Under Modi, a decline in the rule of law has made India a dangerous place to invest. If you are an investor in India, you might be next.”
In 2015, Devas Multimedia, a satellite company, won a USD 1.2 billion arbitration award, which was confirmed by a US federal court in October 2020. The award was compensation for alleged illegal activity at India’s Antrix which was the commercial arm of India’s State Research Organisation (ISRO).
On social media, several users slammed the businessman and accused him of running a smear campaign against India.
“These are deep-pocketed Hindu haters, pretending this is a war on Modi. Shame on Wall Street Journal for allowing such misinformation & lies,” wrote venture capitalist Asha Jadeja Motwani on Twitter.
She claimed that Indian American Muslim Council (IAMC) and Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) could be funding the campaign from their“oil money pool”.