Money is thicker than blood: Indian mogul ‘steals $2.7M (£2million) aid’ funds
- Peter Mukerjea and wife are alleged to have syphoned off up to £90 million from TV empire
- He is accused of murdering his step-daughter Sheen Bora, 25, to cover up alleged theft
- Bora, 25, was Mrs Mukerjea’s daughter from a previous marriage
- She had intimate knowledge of the couple’s financial affairs and offshore bank accounts
A media mogul is behind bars in India accused of murdering his stepdaughter in an attempt to cover-up his alleged theft of millions of pounds of British foreign aid.
Peter Mukerjea and his wife Indrani are alleged to have syphoned off up to £90million from their television empire, which was set up with an estimated minimum of £2million from the Department for International Development (DFID).
Sheen Bora, 25, Mrs Mukerjea’s daughter from a previous marriage, had intimate knowledge of the couple’s financial affairs and offshore bank accounts.
She went missing in April 2012. The following month the charred remains of her body were found hidden deep in woods in a remote village in India.
Media mogul Peter Mukerjea (left, with actor Richard Gere) is accused of murdering his stepdaughter Sheen Bora, 25, who had knowledge of his financial affairs and offshore bank accounts.
She had been strangled. Detectives are investigating the allegation that she was killed to prevent her blowing the whistle on the offshore fraud. The focus of the investigation is now on suspected financial fraud.
£4,000… TO HELP GAMBIANS CROSS THE ROAD
An overseas aid project that funded a new pedestrian crossing in The Gambia has come under fire from Sussex villagers who battled for more than ten years to get their own crossing – and then had to pay half the cost of it themselves.
The new crossing in the village of Cranedown finally opened on Friday, but East Sussex County Council only gave approval last September when the villagers, who raised £9,000, agreed to pay half of it.
Wendy Brewer, chairman of the local residents’ association, said: ‘I don’t doubt there are many hazardous roads in Gambia, but there is an endless demand for this sort of thing in the UK.’
The Foreign and Commonwealth Office spent £4,000 in 2014 on a new crossing in The Gambia, which has an awful road safety record and where pedestrian deaths are commonplace.
An FCO spokesman said: ‘Road safety is a major issue in The Gambia and we provided some funding towards a campaign to raise awareness.
‘A small proportion of this funding was used to establish pedestrian safety aids outside schools and hospitals.’
Indrani Mukerjea, founder of 9X Media Pvt Ltd and former Star TV CEO Peter Mukerjea’s wife, was arrested for alleged murder of her daughter Sheena Bora in 2012.
In 2006 the Mukerjeas set up INX Television using money from a range of backers including a relatively new private equity fund called The New Silk Route (NSR).
NSR was founded by raising almost £1 billion from a variety of investors including the CDC, formerly the Commonwealth Development Corporation.
CDC is the investment arm of the Government’s overseas aid programme, and is entirely funded by DFID. The CDC contributed £28 million to NSR which went on to invest in numerous projects across south Asia, including the Mukerjeas’ INX Television start up.
CDC say it is not possible to reveal the exact amount of British taxpayers’ cash that went into INX because of ‘commercial confidentiality’ but the figure is thought to be at least £2 million. India’s top law enforcement agency the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), suspect the Mukerjeas of taking swathes of money out of INX, including money that originated from DFID.
Last November the CBI lodged an application at a court in Mumbai for permission to access several offshore accounts to try to track down the missing money.
The CBI’s Additional Solicitor General Anil Singh told the hearing: ‘Money siphoned off from INX dealings was routed to Sheena Bora’s HSBC account in Singapore.’
The CDC’s decision to back NSR will raise a fresh round of serious questions about how it distributes DFID money. CDC has come under fire for making huge investments in elite developments in some of the world’s poorest countries, such as an £18 million investment in a development of upmarket flats and a business hotel in Nairobi, Kenya, and £17 million towards an ‘aspirational ocean lifestyle village’ in Mauritius.
Mr Mukerjea, 61, was born in Bristol, the son of a doctor and began his career with Terence Conran’s retail empire Storehouse.
Bora (pictured) went missing in April 2012 and the following month, the charred remains of her body were found hidden deep in woods in a remote village in India
£10,000… TO TEACH ARMENIA ABOUT KILTS
A bizarre series of films about Scotland made for Armenian TV and funded with £10,000 of UK aid promised to teach viewers about kilts, clans and how to drink whisky.
Entitled Scotland: Mysterious And Real, the programmes also included a feature on bagpipes and an interview with the former Labour Chancellor Alistair Darling.
The series, made between 2011 and 2012, received funding from the Foreign Office, which paid for a four-person television crew to be flown from Armenia to Britain.
An Armenian official said the aim of the programme was ‘to present the Scottish best practices in the area of governance, politics and economy to the Armenian society’.
Eben Wilson, from Taxpayer Scotland, said: ‘This is yet another example of money going to places none of us would consider to be supporting the poor.’
An FCO spokesman said the financial support was given to promote Britain ‘to a developing country that will be an important political and economic partner in the future.’
His fortunes rocketed when he moved to Mumbai to work for Rupert Murdoch’s Indian media giant Star TV where he was chief executive officer until 2007 when his wife set up INX.
Miss Bora, an executive with the Mumbai Metro transport system was the daughter of Mrs Mukerjea and her first husband Siddhartha Das.
Mrs Mukerjea’s second husband Sanjeev Khanna and her driver are reported to have confessed to kidnapping and killing Miss Bora, allegedly under instructions from the Mukerjeas. A CDC spokesman said: ‘CDC takes extremely seriously any allegations about the misuse of its capital. There is no evidence that CDC’s capital has been misused.’
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