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Audit Finds Cox & Kings Breached Norms, Siphoned off Funds: Report

A number of alleged irregularities have surfaced in the forensic audit report of the bankrupt travel firm.

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A number of alleged irregularities have been highlighted in the forensic audit of the bankrupt travel firm Cox and Kings, according to a report by The Indian Express.

Among them are transactions worth Rs 21,000 crore from 2015-2019 done mostly to siphon off funds, a Rs 1,100-crore loan to a relative that breached the fiduciary norms; sales worth Rs 9,000 crore to over 160 customers who are figments of imagination, and a string of defaults.

Official records accessed by The Indian Express and records of the audit done in February 2020 by Pricewaterhouse Coopers (PwC) go on to show that the company fudged records.

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Cox and Kings had defaulted in payments and was subjected to insolvency proceedings at the National Company Law Tribunal in late 2019. The forensic audit has alleged that there were no board approvals for related-party transactions of the company – and in some cases there weren’t even formal agreements in place for loans given to family and friends of the promoters and senior officials.

An example of these transactions, according to the Indian Express, was loan of over Rs 1,000 crore to an Alok Industries, which had gone bankrupt in 2017. Cox and Kings had no commercial relationship with the company, and so the deal was fishy; the audit then found that the Chief Financial Officer of Alok Industries was the brother of Cox and Kings’ CFO Anil Khandelwal.

Apart from that, in 2019, Cox and Kings breached loan agreements and lent Rs 589 crore to 11 related parties, raising suspicion that the motive behind this might be to siphon off funds.

The audit report has also alleged that the company made sales of Rs 5,278 crore to 147 non-existent ‘customers’ between 2014-2019. Between 2016 and 2019 also, around Rs 3,908 crore worth of ‘sales’ were made from around 15 customers who had been made up. This way, the audit report alleged, Cox and Kings had been fudging reports by overstating their sales figures and underplaying the debt. A number of fictional transactions like these have also been unearthed.

The Indian Express’ attempts to contact the promoters and senior officers of Cox and Kings did not get any response.

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The Enforcement Directorate had questioned Ajay Ajit in relation to a money laundering case against former Yes Bank chief Rana Kapoor. Last year, Cox and Kings shut its Kolkata office, citing an inability to operate tours. The company had cancelled over a dozen tours after collecting nearly Rs 10 crore from customers, according to a report by The Quint.

Sources had told The Quint that more than 20 complaints had been filed in the police station. A case of fraud to the tune of Rs 7.5 crore had been registered as well.

(Inputs: The Indian Express)

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Topics:  Audit report   Cox and Kings 

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