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Amrapali case: SC terms diversion of money a ‘serious fraud’

The apex court on Tuesday said it would order a forensic probe into the accounts and transactions involving the real estate’s directors, former directors and their kin.

india Updated: Sep 05, 2018 03:39 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Amrapali,Supreme Court,Diversion of funds
Home buyers protest outside Amrapali corporate group Tower 1 at Sector 62, Noida, last August. (Virendra Singh Gosain/HT File)

Terming the alleged diversion of money invested by homebuyers in Amrapali as a “serious case of fraud,” the Supreme Court on Tuesday said it would order a forensic probe into the accounts and transactions involving the real estate’s directors, former directors and their kin.

A bench of justices Arun Misra and UU Lalit said they would get to the root of the matter. “If money has been siphoned off, be rest assured, any person responsible will be firmly dealt with. It’s a serious kind of fraud which has been done in this,” justice Misra noted, while asking additional solicitor general Maninder Singh to suggest names of auditors who can undertake the task.

Singh, who appeared for the Bank of Baroda, said a forensic audit by his client of Amrapali’s transactions showed there was more to it than meets the eye.

The court’s observations came after the group’s former statutory auditor told the court that money was diverted by nine companies to buy shares in 37other companies. The auditor, Anil Mittal, appeared before the court on Tuesday and revealed details of his audit.

Mittal said he had conducted an audit of the accounts till 2015 and he found that over Rs 2,900 crore invested by homebuyers was diverted to buy shares in 37 companies. Speaking on accounts after 2015, Mittal said he did not get any balance sheets of the period.

“We want to know where the money has gone. We want all audits and want a complete inquiry,” Justice Lalit remarked after hearing Mittal. The judge took exception when company’s advocate Gaurav Bhatia defended non-supply of documents, saying they were voluminous and in the process of being compiled

“Why are you saying this? Do you want your premises sealed? Next time we will not wait to hear you,” the judge said. Justice Mishra said: “ We know it’s a little difficult but we will retrieve the money.”

‘Need Rs 8,500 cr to complete work’

The National Building Construction Corporation (NBCC) submitted its proposal to undertake construction of unfinished projects of Amrapali. Additional solicitor general Pinky Anand, appearing for NBCC, said Rs 8,500 crore would be required to complete the work.

The NBCC chairman, present in the court, said Rs 6,462 crore could be realised from various sources, including the homebuyers.

The shortfall of Rs 2,038 crore can be raised by selling unused floor space index (FSI), he said. On being asked if NBCC can put in money, the chairman replied in negative. “We will be project manager,” the chairman said.

Bhatia suggested public auction of the list of unencumbered properties of Amrapali to raise the money. The lawyer was then asked by the court to file a separate affidavit giving details of unencumbered properties and asked the NBCC to also be ready to raise funds.

First Published: Sep 05, 2018 03:39 IST