Supreme Court seeks status report from ED, Delhi Police in probe against Unitech
The Supreme Court on Wednesday asked the Enforcement Directorate and Delhi Police to submit a status report by the end of this month on their probe into the alleged irregularities by realty firm Unitech Limited, and the recoveries made so far that could help the construction of the pending projects affecting 15,000 homebuyers.
A bench of justices Dhananjaya Y Chandrachud and MR Shah said: “Prior to the hearing fixed on September 30, the Directorate of Enforcement (ED) shall file a status report indicating the progress of investigation. A report shall also be filed by the investigating officer of the Delhi Police.”
Last month, ED filed a status report in a sealed cover indicating that property worth ₹600 crore belonging to the former Unitech management and its directors Sanjay Chandra and Ajay Chandra, who are currently in jail, was provisionally attached. It also found that an amount of ₹1,400 crore was laundered through various shell companies in undisclosed tax havens.
A forensic audit ordered by the Supreme Court in 2018 revealed that the Chandra brothers siphoned off ₹1,749 crore to foreign countries including Cyprus, where an amount of ₹290 crore was traced. The auditor Samir Paranjpe working with Forensic and Investigation Service of M/s Grant Thornton India concluded that Chandra brothers collected more than ₹14,200 crore from nearly 30,000 homebuyers as investment in their 74 projects.
Last year, the court approved a seven-member board of management to take over Unitech Limited and spearhead the construction of projects by assessing receivables and settling liabilities incurred by the former management.
Additional Solicitor General (ASG) N Venkatraman, appearing for the new board, informed the court that two sub-committees will pursue dues payable to asset reconstruction companies (ARC) and banks on one hand, and the land-owning authorities of Haryana, Noida and Greater Noida on the other.
Of the 15,000 flats to be constructed, Venkatraman said 8,008 units have been assigned to two ARCs – JM Financial and Suraksha. The bulk of these units, around 6,687, are with JM Financial, and Suraksha handles 1,321 units.
The bench remarked, “We are concerned about the suraksha (protection) of the homebuyers.”
The estimated cost worked out by the new Unitech management for constructing the 15,000 units is said to bein the range of ₹5,500-6,000 crore and the company proposes to hand over 2,500 dwelling units within a year and another 2,500 within the second year. For work to progress, the new management intends to monetise unsold inventory (in the form of land parcels) lying in the name of Unitech group that is said to fetchroughly ₹5,641 crore. In addition, the sale of unsold flats across various Unitech housing projects is also expected to contribute a little over ₹3,500 crore, according to a note prepared on behalf of the company by advocate Anubha Agrawal.