Sunday, April 11

Plea for probe into alleged funds misappropriation by Indiabulls; HC asks Centre, RBI to reply

NEW DELHI: The Delhi High Court on Friday decided to examine the allegations, in a PIL by an NGO, of financial irregularities, siphoning of funds and other violations against the promoters of Indiabulls Housing Finance Ltd (IBHFL).

A bench of Chief Justice D N Patel and Justice C Hari Shankar issued notice to the central government, the Reserve Bank of India and Indiabulls seeking their stand on the petition filed by an NGO.

The court also issued notice to the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI), National Housing Bank (NHB), the Serious Fraud Investigation Office (SFIO), Registrar of Companies (ROC) and Sameer Gehlaut, the founder and chairman of Indiabulls group and asked them to file their replies by December 13– the next date of hearing.

The bench decided to issue notice in the matter after brief arguments on behalf of the company, represented by senior advocates Mukul Rohatgi and Abhishek Manu Singhvi, and the NGO, for whom advocate Prashant Bhushan appeared in the matter.

Rohatgi urged the court not to issue notice and offered to file a response without it, saying that once notice is issued then it would be flashed on news media which in turn would affect the company’s share values. The bench, however, did not agree.

During the brief arguments, NGO ‘Citizens Whistle Blower Forum’ told the court that around Rs 4,600 crore was allegedly loaned by Indiabulls to various shell companies which in turn routed the money though other entities back to the promoters.

The contention was vehemently opposed by Rohatgi who said: “Which fool will give an unsecured loan of Rs 4,600 crore?”

He said that all money given on loan was properly secured and more than Rs 3,000 crore has been paid back to it.

“This is an inquisition. The filing of the petition has affected the share value of the company,” Rohatgi argued.

The senior lawyer said that the NGO was making the allegations without doing proper research and was relying on a letter of BJP leader Subramanian Swamy to Prime Minister Narendra Modi accusing Indiabulls group of misappropriation of funds.

Swamy has publicly released a letter he had sent in June to the prime minister, accuses the Indiabulls group of embezzling Rs 1 lakh crore from NHB.

The NGO, whose members include former Delhi High Court Chief Justice A P Shah, former Chief of Naval Staff Admiral L Ramdas, former IAS officer Aruna Roy and activist-lawyer Prashant Bhushan, has sought a direction to the Ministry of Corporate Affairs (MCA) to order an investigation by SFIO into the irregularities alleged against Indiabulls.

Apart from that, the petition has also sought a direction to RBI and NHB to investigate the financial affairs of IBHFL and to direct a special audit of IBHFL.

Indiabulls had earlier opposed the plea saying it was “malicious” and “mala fide” petition which was causing loss to its business and reputation.

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