ED’s Renewed Efforts: Byju’s Founder Faces Travel Restrictions

Renewed Lookout Notice Against Byju Ravindran Raises Questions Amid Byju's Financial Crisis

New Delhi: The Enforcement Directorate (ED) is seeking to issue a lookout circular against Byju Ravindran, founder and CEO of ed-tech startup Byju’s App. The action would stop all his foreign travel for intensified investigation. There is already a lookout notice against Ravindran in place. However, this has not led to an arrest so far.

Key Points

  • The Enforcement Directorate (ED) is seeking a lookout circular against Byju’s app founder to prevent foreign travel for questioning regarding alleged FEMA violations.
  • Ravindran has been frequently traveling overseas despite existing lookout notices. ED will issue a new notice with strict conditions to bar such trips and compel him to return to India.
  • The investigation focuses on nearly Rs 9,362 crore worth of foreign investment received by Byju from overseas transactions.

The ED had asked the Bureau of Immigration (BOI) authorities to issue fresh notices with strict conditions. The purpose of renewing the lookout notice is to prevent Ravindran from leaving the country amid severe financial pressures facing Byju. The agency had already issued an ‘on intimation’ LoC against Ravindran about a year and a half ago at the request of ED’s Kochi office. However, the investigation was later transferred to the Bengaluru office. The unit is now behind the new action to interrogate Ravindran in custody.

Ravindran Promises Company Reforms Amid Crisis

Byju is exploring new ways to bounce back from its troubled situation. Ravindran promised to reform the company’s governance and ensure transparency in a letter to shareholders. He indicated there are constructive suggestions to address issues within the company. Ravindran’s most considerable assurance was reorganizing the board to increase shareholder representation. Meanwhile, the ED’s fresh move could complicate matters.

An LoC on intimation means immigration officials inform the investigating agency when a person travels abroad. However, this does not prevent the person from leaving India. Due to this, Ravindran can travel internationally even during the earlier Look Out Notice period. The ED’s Bengaluru office has now acted amid ongoing probes into alleged Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA) violations worth ₹9,362.35 crore by Ravindran. The goal is to block him from traveling overseas. If successful, this would compel Ravindran to return to India, failing which he could be arrested through Interpol.

Byju Ravindran, a native of Kannur, became a billionaire through Byju’s. ED’s new move puts the edtech startup in deep crisis. For three years, Ravindran frequently traveled between Delhi and Dubai. He was in Bengaluru earlier this week and is reportedly scheduled to visit Singapore tomorrow. Foreign trips are no longer possible if a lookout notice is issued with stringent conditions. ED sources say authorities are pushing for the notice, keeping investor interest in mind. Once published, Ravindran cannot leave India.

Investigation Focuses on Foreign Investments

Last November, the ED issued a show cause notice to Byju’s parent company, Think and Learn Pvt Ltd and Ravindran, for allegedly violating FEMA provisions involving ₹9,362.35 crore. The critical focus of the investigation is the foreign investment received by Byju. The agency believes huge losses were caused to the country through transactions violating FEMA in 1999.

On April 27-28 last year, the ED searched Byju’s properties and seized documents related to investments received by the company and those made abroad. There are reports that Byju also needs to submit detailed records of transactions outside India.

Rohit Sharma

Rohit Sharma is a seasoned Political Journalist with a deep passion for Indian Politics. With over a decade of experience in the field, he has established himself as a trusted… More »

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