‘Be Ready for Jail’: SC Orders Attachment of Amrapali Assets
In a crackdown on Amrapali Group for “wilful disobedience” of its orders, the Supreme Court, on Tuesday, 13 November, ordered the attachment of the company’s 100-bed multi-speciality hospital, bank accounts, the building that houses its office, firms and a ‘benami’ villa in Goa.
The court also asked the Chief Financial Officer Chander Wadhwa to deposit Rs 11.69 crore with its registry within three weeks and asked a statutory auditor Anil Mittal to pay Rs 47 lakh.
It also restrained Amrapali Group from creating any third-party rights for 86 luxury cars and SUVs purchased from the company's funds.
The court sought the presence of CMD Anil Sharma and two directors Shiv Priya and Ajay Kumar on 19 November. The top court said that time is running out for the promoters and directors of Amrapali and they will be sent to jail if they fail to comply with the court’s order, the Times of India reported.
A bench of Justices Arun Mishra and UU Lalit said that Amrapali Group has deliberately not complied with its earlier order and committed a "serious fraud" by diverting home-buyers' money from one company to the other.
Amrapali Transferred Buyers' Money from One Firm to Sister Companies
The bench also attached the bank accounts of GauriSuta Infrastructures Pvt Ltd, its director Sunil Kumar and its assets after forensic auditors disclosed that Amrapali transferred home-buyers' money from one firm to sister companies using it as conduit.
Forensic auditors Pawan Kumar Aggarwal and Ravi Bhatia, appointed by the court to look into the affairs of embattled firm, said that home-buyers' money was given as advances to the tune of Rs 442 crore to 15 companies and nine individuals from Amrapali Saphire project.
Bhatia told the bench that a firm called 'Stunning Construction Pvt Ltd' did some "stunning work" as it paid income tax returns of the companies as well as directors and other individuals, for which it received Rs 500 crore.
The bench then asked the forensic auditors to ascertain the investment of Amrapali in its projects and the "ghost" home buyers as the properties could have been sold to such benami persons to augment the value of company.
"They have created web of companies since 2010 to transfer funds from one project to another to circumvent the restrictions enforced in the Company's Act," the auditors told the bench, adding that promoters have also tried to avoid stamp duty by transferring the high value property to other company.
Aggarwal said that in the forensic audit they have found transactions of the Group with other 27 "dummy companies" and since last year, Amrapali promoters have started withdrawing money from bank accounts of such companies.
The court also pulled up the Group for filling 3,000-4,000 page affidavit with no requisite information and warned that directors may be sent behind bars for not disclosing the details sought by the court.
The bench posted the matter for further hearing on 20 November.
‘There May Be a Web of More Than 200-250 Firms Where Home-Buyers’ Money Was Transferred’
On 31 October, the apex court had directed the Amrapali Group to disclose the names of all the companies with which it had any kind of transactions after forensic auditors pointed out that there may be a web of more than 200-250 such firms where home-buyers' money was transferred.
The court was also told that there may be a case of the Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA), as large amount of money was transferred to a multinational company based in Mauritius.
It had also initiated contempt proceedings against Sharma and its directors for prima facie violating court's order and thwarting the course of justice. The matter is listed on 20 November.
The court is seized of a batch of petitions filed by home buyers who are seeking possession of around 42,000 flats booked in projects of the Amrapali Group.
(With inputs from PTI and The Times of India)