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Vivek Doval, the son of National Security Advisor Ajit Doval, today deposed before Delhi’s Patiala House Court in his defamation case against Congress leader Jairam Ramesh, magazine The Caravan and the author of the allegedly defamatory article, Kaushal Shroff.
The matter is being heard by Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Samar Vishal.
“I have filed this complaint to redress my grievances against the accused persons on account of making defamatory allegations against me and my family, which are completely baseless and false”, Doval stated at the outset.
Vivek Doval claimed that intent of the article titled ‘The D Companies’ published in The Caravan and mentioned in the press conference by Ramesh was to run a “malicious campaign” against the Doval family.
“I was a soft target. In fact, the target of the malicious campaign was my family, especially my father”, Doval claimed.
While remarking that Ajit Doval “dedicated his life to the security and welfare of the country all his life”, Doval clarified that his father has no connection with his business or his brother’s.
“The article was titled ‘The D-Companies’ and contained a picture of my father and brother. My family was referred as ‘D Company’ when we know that D company refers to the known criminal Dawood Ibrahim”, he further objected.
He claimed that random facts, misfacts, lies, misleading inferences were pieced together in a motivated manner to tarnish his and his family’s reputation.
“Allegations of money laundering, round tripping capital, knowing of demonetization in advance has tarnished my family’s reputation…created an impression that we were doing anti-national activities…Comments from public terming me as “chhota doval” has put me in mind with Chhota Rajan and Chhota Shakil who are hardened criminals”, he said.
Referring to the statements made by Jairam Ramesh against him and his brother in his press conference, Doval said that the allegations were made in a demeaning manner, without trying to ascertain the facts.
The repercussions of the article as well press conference, Doval claimed, questioned his professional integrity.
“As a fund manager, I am nothing without my integrity. If I have a dubious integrity, my career is over.
(Since) People entrust their hard-earned money with Fund Managers, if investment becomes risky, it causes a lot of anxiety not only in the mind of the existing investor but also prospective investors“, Doval explained.
With the accused persons leaving no stone un-turned in ensuring mass outreach of the story and sensationalizing it through social media, Doval said that that the material was even picked up by newspapers, which further tarnished his image.
Doval, who is a citizen of the United Kingdom as well as an Overseas Citizen of India, submitted that the inception of his hedge fund, GNY Asia Fund could be traced to as early as 2012 when he discussed the idea with his current business partner Amit Sharma.
He clarified that although GNY Asia Fund was scheduled to come into existence in October 2016, due to administrative and legal delays, the Fund was created on Nov 21, 2016. Therefore, its proximity with demonetization was a mere coincidence, Doval stated in his complaint.
He also informed the Court that GNY Asia Fund never took subscriptions from any person based in India or ever marketed the Fund in India. However, it did obtain a Foreign Portfolio Investment (FIP) license from SEBI to invest in India in December 2016. The Fund invested in India from January through August 2017, when it exited the market after being unable to add investors as per SEBI regulations, he said.
Since the Fund had an FIP license and not an FDI license, it never made any Foreign Direct Investment in India, as claimed in the allegedly defamatory article and conference.
Doval therefore claimed that allegations of money laundering and conversion of black money worth Rs. 8300 crore through his venture GNY Asia Fund were without any basis. He also refuted the claim that Rs 8300 crore was invested in his FPI Fund for the purpose of conversion of black money by claiming that as per SEBI regulations, no Indian resident could make an investment in an FPI fund.
“My Fund’s corpus was USD 11.1, which is close to INR 77 crore, and that remains its highest till date. In any point of time, we have not been even 1% of the amount alleged in the press conference or article.”
The current corpus of GNY Asia Fund is USD 8.3 million, Doval stated.
He also justified the Cayman Islands-domicile of his GNY Asia Fund on the ground that it provided a rich ecosystem of lawyers, accountants, tax consultants etc. 60% of world’s hedge funds are based out of the Cayman Islands, Doval informed the Court.
It was further clarified that he had no commercial relationship with his elder brother Shaurya Doval. However, since GNY Asia Fund was a start-up, it shared a small office space and two research resources with his brother’s company, Doval acknowledged.
Concluding his deposition, Doval claimed that the defamatory article and press conference has tarnished his image as a professional globally and it is impossible to recover from this setback. The harm cannot be quantified in monetary terms, Doval said.
Judge Samar Vishal had taken cognizance of Doval’s criminal defamation complaint against The Caravan, Jairam Ramesh and author of the article Kaushal Shroff on January 22. Doval had moved Court after The Caravan published the article alleging that NSA Ajit Doval’s sons run a web of companies including a Cayman Islands hedge fund even as their father demands a crackdown on tax havens.
Doval is represented by Advocate DP Singh.
The matter will next be heard on February 11, on which date the Court will record the statement of other witnesses.