Film piracy funding terror: US thinktank

26 03 2009

7 Mar 2009, 0425 hrs IST, S Balakrishnan,
Source: TNN

MUMBAI: The leading US thinktank, Rand Corporation, has confirmed what Indian intelligence agencies have been maintaining all along— Dawood
Ibrahim has graduated to terrorism and is siphoning off millions of dollars earned from film piracy, drug-running and other crimes to finance his operations.

According to sources in the film industry and police, the moment a film is released in Mumbai, the ‘D-Company’ makes camera prints and sends them to Karachi or Kuala Lumpur where millions of DVDs are made and marketed across the world. But after the Mumbai-based Valuable Group introduced satellite transmission of films directly to cinema halls, it has become difficult for the gang to make camera prints as each cinema hall has a secret identity number encrypted into the movie. To avoid this, gang members have established links with small-time theatres in Gujarat where the camera prints are taken at the first show of any new film.

The gang also receives advance prints of the films financed by it through front companies. “Contrary to general impression, the D-Company is still active in Bollywood,” a film producer says.

“Dawood is India’s godfather of godfathers who runs criminal gangs from Bangkok to Dubai. His gang syndicate, called D-Company, engages in strong-arm protection, drug trafficking, extortion and murder-for-hire,” the Rand report says.

It says that film piracy can be more paying than drug-trafficking. The report says a pirated DVD made in Malaysia for 70 cents is marked up more than 1,000% and sold in London for about $9. “The profit margin is more than three times higher than the mark-up for Iranian heroin and higher than the profit from Columbian cocaine,” the report says.

Identifying Al-Mansoor and Sadaf brands belonging to Dawood, the report says he has acquired extraordinary market power in the distribution of pirated films throughout the region. The report says the D-Company has got control of Sadaf Trading Company based in Karachi, and thus allowing it to manage distribution network in Pakistan and also acquiring the infrastructure to manufacture pirate VHS tapes and VCDs for sale.

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