RadioandMusic
| 04 Dec 2020
Indian Performing Rights Society faces investigation by ED for money laundering

MUMBAI: For months on end, the Indian Performing Rights Society (IPRS) has been under the scanner for its lack of transparency. However, now it has found itself in deep trouble; and this time round, it is with the Enforcement Directorate (ED). The Directorate, under the administrative control of Department of Revenue, attached investments worth Rs 70.17 crore of the Indian Performing Rights Society (IPRS) after allegations of money laundering.

The IPRS will be investigated under Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA), 2002, after it was alleged that the company (which was once a society) has collected royalties on behalf of authors, composers and music publishers, and failed to distribute it among the rights holders.

Commenting on the existing situation to Radioandmusic.com, Universal Music Publishing MD Achille Forler said, “I am in a state of shock. It is unbelievable.”

He further added, “All the authors, publishers and I held the CEO and the Board members in high esteem. They were professionals; after all, we elected them, 12 years ago, and entrusted millions of beautiful songs to them because the Parliament, in its infinite wisdom, put the Society on a pedestal, at the heart of the licensing process. And in the spate of one month, we are told that the people who run the Society have defied Parliament, dragged the Government right up to the Supreme Court and... lost; and played the casino with two years of our artists' income! What is worse than getting booked under the PMLA, bracketing a peaceful, joy-giving industry with smugglers and terrorists?"

The company is run by governing council directors namely Hasan Kamal, R. Viramuthu, Samuel Joseph, O.P. Sonik, Piraisudan, (Late) Ravindra Jain and Om Prakash Kataria, along with representatives from labels like Universal Music India, Saregama India, Tips Industries, Venus Worldwide Entertainment and Sony Music Entertainment as per 2013-14 financial report. The CEO of the company is Rakesh Nigam, while V J Lazarus is its member of honour.

Former IPRS exec Sanjay Tandon who parted ways with the company after a “difference of opinion” and “refusing to be a puppet”, said, “Finally, justice will be served to all composers and songwriters of the country. The new ED attached investigation, is in the same direction. And the Supreme Court ruling (in September) against the company was yet another proof.”

Tandon is now CEO of Music Composers Association of India (MCAI) and Singer’s Association of India (SAI). In a previous interview with Radioandmusic.com, he expressed his concern over the working of the IPRS and said that the stakeholders should get together, reinvent IPRS by helping bring more transparency. However, latest development has shocked many in the industry.

On contacting the IPRS, Nigam clarified his stand by saying that they “are not doing anything illegal.” He also added, “The royalties that are held back is before 2012 which is prior to Copyright Act, as there was no clarity and there was conflict of interest among right-holders. However, royalties collected after 2012 are being distributed among the right-holders.”

Nigam added, “We will come out clean as the investigation will prove that we are not depriving anyone of money, as have kept the royalties in bonds and deposits, as there are some on-going disputes. Unless it is not resolved, we have to safeguard their monies.” He also stressed that there are somewhere between 50 and 60 authors who are raising issues for the former society.

As per IPRS’ balance sheet for 2013-2014, it had to pay Rs 39.6 crores to its members. The company has incurred legal expense of Rs 2.69 crores in 2013-2014 as compared to Rs 1.34 crores in 2013-2012. As per the balance sheet of IPRS for 2013-2014, the company had around Rs 86.92 crores invested in the form of savings, bonds, deposits and other forms of investment.