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The "Farmers Insurance News-Alert" website is dedicated to providing the consumer and general public with detailed information concerning the Farmers Insurance Group. This includes fraud reports, consumer complaints, lawsuit's and other legal actions taken against this company. All information contained herein is for educational purposes only. Original sources, when known are sited.

 

BAT `Aware' Of Violations, Malcolm Fry Interrogated

November 15, 1996

Our Bureau

CALCUTTA, Nov. 14

MR. Malcolm Fry, former BAT nominee on the ITC board and current ly Managing Director of VST Industries in Hyderabad, was today interrogated by Enforcement Directorate officials here for almost eight hours on the alleged FERA violations by ITC Ltd.

``Prima facie, it appears that BAT was aware of FERA violations by the tobacco giant, '' Mr. K. K. Kabirpanthi, ED Deputy Direc tor, told reporters during a short break in the interrogation proceedings.

Mr. Fry has represented BAT in India for a little over a year. Mr. Kabirpanthi said Mr. Fry was co-operating and at this point of time there was no need for his further interrogation. ED sources said Mr. Fry had referred to Mr. Richard Pilbeam as being more knowledgeable on ITC affairs.

Mr. Fry, summoned by ED along with two other BAT representatives, arrived in the morning from Mumbai and reported at the office of the directorate around 11-30 a.m. Significantly, he is the first BAT representative called in for questioning on the alleged FERA violations by ITC. Mr. Pilbeam, who was also initially asked to make himself available for questioning by the ED, has now been asked to appear on November 21.

ED officials, when asked if they had the powers to arrest a foreign national on charges of FERA violations, confirmed that the Act had such provisions.

Informed sources said Mr. Pilbeam was unlikely to attend the crucial board meeting tomorrow, and his place may be taken by Mr. Timothy Lord, BAT's area director for India. The alternate to Mr. Pilbeam on the ITC board is Mr. S. J. R. Smith, who would be attending the board meeting. Mr. Tony Johnston, BAT's director in charge of Amesca (Africa, the Middle East and Southern and Cen tral Asia, including the Indian sub-continent), is the alternate director for Mr. Malcolm Fry, who was shifted by BAT on September 1 to VST as MD, replacing Mr. Raj Sujan.

Mr. Sujan has been moved to New Delhi as BAT's Resident Director, India. He, however, remains the non-executive Chairman of VST Natural Products. Mr. Lord, though posted in the UK, is consid ered the boss for BAT in India. Sources said he would be the other BAT representative attending tomorrow's board session along with Mr. Smith.

ITC watchers opine that the single agenda for tomorrow's board meeting may be a thorough discussion on the current crisis which has engulfed the company. The BAT and FI nominees, it is learnt, would be listeners initially before participating in the discus sions to work out a viable strategy for defusing the crisis in the immediate term.

Held after scuffle: Three persons belonging to a private securi ty agency were arrested by the police from in front of the office of the ED today, following a minor scuffle with mediapersons and photographers waiting since morning to photograph Mr. Fry. As soon as Mr. Fry alighted from his car to enter the ED building, the three men, who had already mingled with the group of newsper sons, jumped in front of the lensmen to escort Mr. Fry into the building. A virtual free-for-all ensued.

Later, on a plaint by a group of photographers, the three men were arrested and taken to the Taltola police station. Dressed in plain clothes, the three, reportedly belonging to a well-known private security agency in the city, were providing security for Mr. Fry, and were under instructions to maintain a low profile. A spokesperson for ITC stated that the company had no role in this as Mr. Fry was no longer on the ITC board. VST is a separate corporate entity, with a common parentin BAT with ITC.

 

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