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PF scam: Nearly 2 years on, PCL yet to get back money from DHFL

Running from court to tribunal for last two years, the UP Power Corporation Ltd (UPPCL) has not got back even a single penny yet of the balance 2,267 crore of the employees’ provident fund (PF) it allegedly illegally invested as fixed deposits (FDs) in the Diwan Housing Finance Ltd (DHFL)—a Mumbai-based private company that has declared itself broke since
By Brajendra K Parashar, Lucknow
PUBLISHED ON JUL 23, 2021 11:57 PM IST

Running from court to tribunal for last two years, the UP Power Corporation Ltd (UPPCL) has not got back even a single penny yet of the balance 2,267 crore of the employees’ provident fund (PF) it allegedly illegally invested as fixed deposits (FDs) in the Diwan Housing Finance Ltd (DHFL)—a Mumbai-based private company that has declared itself broke since.

Barring three of the total 117 FDs deposited in the DHFL between March 2017 and December 2018 have already attained maturity and the last one worth 5 crore will also mature next month on August 6 without the corporation getting anything.

“There remains the status quo as far as getting the money back from the DFL is concerned,” UPPCL Contributory Provident Fund Trust secretary SK Awasthi confirmed. “The Mumbai high court has referred the case to the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) and we are urging the tribunal to direct the DHFL to pay the money back to us,” Awasthi said.

The Trust invested 2631.20 crore from the employees’ GPF and 1491.15 from the CPF into the Diwan Housing Finance Corporation Ltd (DHFCL) allegedly in exchange of commission flouting the Central government’s investment guidelines.

Only a few days after the PF scam surfaced in early November 2019 creating ripples in the state’s political and bureaucratic circles, the UPPCL approached the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) for help to get the money back with due interest from the insolvent DHFL and on RBI’s advice it moved the Mumbai high court.

The court, according to people aware of the matter, could not take up the case due to the Covid-19 pandemic that followed and when it heard the case a few weeks ago, it referred the same case to the NCLT for adjudication.

A statement on the details of investment made by the UPPCL CPF Trust on August 6, 2020, shows that the first four FDs of 10 crore each invested in the DHFL matured October 7, 2019, and FDs of different amounts continue to mature every month the last one will mature on August 6.

On one hand, the corporation has got no money back from the DHFL, the CBI that took over the case from state’s economic offences wing (EOW) a few weeks after the scam was unearthed, has not been able file the charge sheet in the case on the other.

“Taking so much time by the CBI in filing the charge sheet in this high-profile case casts doubts over whether the accused named in the FIR are the real culprits or there is something more to the scam than meets the eye,” former IPS officer Amitabh Thakur hinted.

The Allahabad high court on July 13 granted bail to former UPPCL managing director and one of the prime accused in the PF scam after he was put in jail around two years ago on the charges of criminal conspiracy. The court set him free on bail on the ground of accused-applicant’s bad health and lack of credible evidence against him.

“The C.B.I. has been investigating the offence for almost two years. The accused-applicant is 70 years old and has been suffering from various ailments including heart ailment. Except for few documents allegedly signed by him, authorising investment in PNB Housing, LIC Housing and DHFL, there is no document on record regarding his involvement in the commission of the offence,” Justice Dinesh Kumar Singh said in his order granting the bail to Mishra.

The court further pointed out in the order that the co-accused-Abhinav Gupta in his statement given to the police had stated that around 30 crore commission was obtained from DHFL and this commission was divided amongst the accused-applicant, his father, PK Gupta and Sudhanshu Dwivedi, but the CBI, it stressed, had not been able to unearth so far any money trail involving the accused-applicant to have received part of the commission allegedly given by the DHFL or the PNB Housing Company.

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