India markets regulator finds $241 mln irregularity in Zee's accounts, Bloomberg reports

Credit: REUTERS/DADO RUVIC

Adds Zee's statement in paragraph 5

Feb 21 (Reuters) - The Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) has found an accounting issue of over 20 billion rupees ($241.36 million) in the accounts of Zee Entertainment Enterprises ZEE.NS, Bloomberg News reported on Wednesday, citing people familiar with the matter.

The markets regulator said last year that Zee Group's founders, Chairman Subhash Chandra and CEO Puneet Goenka, were actively involved in diverting company funds to the group's other listed entities and firms related to its founding shareholders. Both men have denied any wrongdoing.

The amount flagged by SEBI was roughly 10 times higher than investigators had initially estimated, the Bloomberg report said.

The amount calculated was not final and could be revised after SEBI reviewed responses from the company's executives, the report added.

SEBI did not immediately respond to Reuters' request for comment, while Zee said it is in the process of providing all the information requested by SEBI.

Japan's Sony Group 6758.Tterminated a 10 billion merger with Zee last month due to certain unresolved "closing conditions" and leadership disputes, including disagreements over Goenka's involvement in regulatory matters.

Indian business daily the Economic Times reported on Tuesday that Zee was making a final attempt to restart discussions with Sony to revive the deal.

Zee, however, denied being involved in any such negotiations, according to an exchange filing.

In October, an Indian tribunal had lifted a ban that prevented Goenka from holding board positions.

($1 = 82.8641 Indian rupees)

(Reporting by Disha Misra, Angela Christy and Maria Ponnezhath in Bengaluru; Editing by Pooja Desai and Sonia Cheema)

((AngelaChristy.M@thomsonreuters.com;))

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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