Amrapali verdict in Supreme Court: Three directors sent to police custody

Taking note of diversion of Rs 2,765 crore of homebuyers’ money by the group for other purposes, the bench had directed the auditors to examine accounts of all 46 companies of the group. (PTI)

The Supreme Court on Tuesday sent three Amrapali Group directors, who were present in the court, to police custody till they hand over every document related to accounts of all their 46 group companies to the forensic auditors appointed by the apex court.

“I hope now they will cooperate… You (directors) are playing hide and seek. You are trying to mislead the court,” a Bench led by justice Arun Mishra said.

The three directors — Anil Kumar Sharma, Shiv Priya and Ajay Kumar —will remain in police custody till they hand over all the documents.

The court also issued formal notice to the three contemnors and all the companies and their directors to show cause why proceedings for contempt be not initiated against them. All the eight directors and the statutory auditors are not supposed to leave the country and they have to surrender their passports to the Delhi Police. However, the nominee directors are exempted.

Stating that the conduct of the directors was in “gross violation” of its earlier orders, the SC observed that “it is not only deliberate non-compliance of the order but effort is being made to fritter away the documents in utter violation of the order passed by this court. No justification could be pointed out by the Amrapali Group of Companies for not complying with the orders”.

“We make it clear that not even one single paper will remain with the auditors and directors of the Amrapali Group of companies… In case the aforesaid persons fail to hand over the documents as ordered, they shall remain in the custody of the Police till such time the documents are handed over,” the Bench said while directing the police to take them from the court along with them to their respective offices and residences and other places where documents may be found.

It also said that the Delhi Police and the Economic Offence Wing is free to make any criminal investigation, file charge-sheet and take all appropriate steps.

The order was passed after SC-appointed forensic auditors Pawan Kr Aggarwal and Shri Ravi Bhatia told the Bench that only skeletal documents of two companies — Amrapali Zodiac and of Amrapali Princely Estates — have been handed over and rest of the other documents have not been handed over.

Taking note of diversion of Rs 2,765 crore of homebuyers’ money by the group for other purposes, the bench had directed the auditors to examine accounts of all 46 companies of the group.

It had earlier allowed National Buildings Construction Corporation (NBCC), which was appointed to develop stalled projects of the realty firm, to float tenders for selecting the builder to complete the stalled projects of Amrapali Group and asked it to prepare a detailed project report for pending projects within 60 days.

On September 12, the apex court had also asked the Debts Recovery Tribunal to sell the unencumbered commercial properties of the group and deposit the sale proceeds in a separate escrow account for disbursal to the corporation for completing pending projects in Group A and B Categories. Besides, it directed that bank accounts, balance sheets and other documents of all the 46 Amrapali companies and Jotindra Steel since 2008 be given to the forensic auditors. NBCC had earlier given a proposal for completion of 15 residential projects of Amrapali having 46,575 flats at an estimated cost of Rs 8,500 crore in six to 36 months.

The top court had in August discharged the Insolvency Resolution Professional (IRP) of all its responsibilities with regard to its two Noida projects — Amrapali Zodiac and Amrapali Silicon City — as the court is directly monitoring the two projects. Insolvency proceedings are pending in both the projects.

The top court had earlier flayed the Amrapali group for “defrauding investors” and playing “dirty games” with it and had directed attachment of all bank accounts and movable properties of 46 companies of the real estate group. It froze all the bank account of all its directors and also restrained them from selling their personal properties without the permission of the court.

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