Centre agrees in SC to revisit its 2017 proposal of taking over Unitech management

The Centre, however, said it would not infuse any funds for completion of pending projects of the company.

In a major development, the Centre has told the Supreme Court that it is agreeable to revisit its 2017 proposal to take over the management control of embattled realty firm Unitech Ltd and complete its stalled projects to bring relief to around 12,000 hassled home buyers. The Centre, in its six-page note submitted to a bench headed by Justice D Y Chandrachud, said it is prepared to revisit its proposal of December 2017, to remove the existing management of Unitech Ltd and appoint ten nominee directors of the government.

The Centre, however, said it would not infuse any funds for completion of pending projects of the company. It said the court, while ensuring a period of calm should direct a moratorium for 12 months.

For the proposed board, the government also suggested the name of retired Haryana cadre IAS officer Yudvir Singh Malik, as chairman and managing director of the board and names of members including A K Mittal, ex-CMD of National Buildings Construction Corporation (NBCC), Renu Sud Karnad, Chairman of HDFC Credila Finance Service Pvt Ltd, Jitu Virwani, CMD of Embassy Group, Niranjan Hiranandani , MD of Mumbai-based Hiranandani Group.

It said the court may appoint a retired judge of the Supreme Court for supervising the resolution framework finalised by the proposed board of directors.

“That this court may allow the proposed board of directors to appoint key managerial persons, professionals (legal, insolvency, financial advisors, real estate professionals, etc) for assisting the government appointed board and payment of requisite professional fees including the legal fees, thereof from the company accounts,” the Centre’s note said.

It also sought directions to the promoters, the present management of the company, forensic auditors, asset reconstruction companies, banks and financial institutions and state governments to extend cooperation to the proposed board of directors.

“That this court may issue directions to restrain the promoters from alienating, mortgaging, creating charge or lien or interest in the movable and immovable properties owned by them,” the government said, adding, services of the committee headed by Justice S N Dhingra, appointed to sell the company’s assets, be put on rest.

The government also sought immunity for the proposed directors in respect of the numerous litigations pending across the country, involving the company, management and its promoters.

It also sought permission for the proposed board of directors to raise funds due from the home buyers, sell the unsold inventory, monetising the unencumbered assets for completion of the stalled projects.

“That this court recognizes and directs that without any prejudice to any order, the government has the right to refer the company to liquidation or Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (IBC), like resolution outside the framework of IBC, in case the assigned takeover is not viable in the absence of requisite resources,” the government said.

On December 18, last year, the top court had asked the Centre if it was agreeable to revisit its 2017 proposal as there is urgent need for the projects of Unitech Ltd. to be taken up by a specialised agency, so as to ensure completion in a time bound schedule in the interest of the home buyers.

The top court had said, “Since the Union of India withdrew the application which it had submitted before the NCLT only for the reason that this Court was seized of the present proceedings, we are of the view that the Union of India should revisit the original proposal in the interests of home buyers and consider appointing independent Directors for the takeover of the management of Unitech Limited”.

It had said that these deliberations may be conducted at the highest level and Attorney General K K Venugopal should apprise the court by January 15, about the modalities which have been worked out.

In 2017, the Centre had moved the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) seeking suspension of the current directors and an order of restraint on the alienation of assets by Unitech Ltd.

The NCLT in its order December 8, 2017, issued interim directions for suspension of directors of Unitech Ltd and restrained them from alienating, mortgaging, creating charge or lien or interest in the properties owned by them personally or that of the company till the conclusion of investigation.

However, the top court on December 13, 2017, stayed the NCLT’s December 8, 2017 order and later the Centre agreed to withdraw its application from the tribunal.

In 2018, the apex court had directed a forensic audit of Unitech Ltd and its sister concerns and subsidiaries by Samir Paranjpe, Partner, Forensic and Investigation Services in M/s Grant Thornton India.

The forensic auditors have also submitted their report which said that Unitech Ltd received around Rs 14,270 crores from 29,800 home buyers mostly between 2006-2014 and around Rs 1,805 crores from six financial institutions for the construction of 74 projects.

The audit revealed that around Rs 5,063 crore of home buyers money and around Rs 763 crores of fund received from financial institutions were not utilized by the company and high value investments were made off-shore tax-haven countries between 2007-2010.

The top court ordered investigation into the omission and commission of promoters of Unitech Ltd under Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA).

Unitech promoters Sanjay Chandra and his brother Ajay Chandra are currently lodged in Tihar jail for allegedly siphoning off homebuyers’ money.

Bank loan fraud: Delhi court grants bail to Ratul Puri in a money laundering case.

A Delhi court Friday granted bail to businessman Ratul Puri, nephew of Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Kamal Nath, in a money laundering case related to a bank loan fraud.

Special Judge Arvind Kumar granted the relief to Puri saying no purpose will be served by keeping him in further custody.

The Enforcement Directorate had last month filed a charge sheet against Puri and his company Moser Baer.

It had arrested Puri on August 20 and he is currently in judicial custody in the case which emerged from a CBI FIR of August 17. Puri, his father Deepak Puri, mother Nita (Nath’s sister) and others were booked in connection with the Rs 354 crore bank fraud case file by the Central Bank of India.

Puri was arrested under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) in the bank fraud case after he appeared before the central probe agency in the VVIP chopper scam.

The court had on December 2 granted bail to Puri in the AgustaWestland money laundering case, while directing him not to “tamper with evidence” or “try to contact or influence the witnesses”.

Bank fraud: Ratul Puri moves bail plea

A Delhi court on Friday sought response from the Enforcement Directorate (ED) on a bail application filed by businessman Ratul Puri, nephew of Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Kamal Nath, in a money laundering case related to a bank loan fraud.

Special judge Arvind Kumar issued notice to the ED and directed it to file a reply by November 30.

The ED had last month filed a charge sheet against Puri and company Moser Baer before Special Judge Sanjay Garg and the court is scheduled to take up the matter later in the day.

The ED had arrested Puri on August 20. He is currently in judicial custody in the case.

Puri is also in judicial custody in another money laundering case related to AgustaWestland VVIP chopper scam.

In the chopper scam, the Delhi High Court had earlier dismissed Puri’s anticipatory bail plea, saying his custodial interrogation was “required for an effective investigation”.

Puri was arrested under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) in the bank fraud case after he appeared before the central probe agency here in the chopper scam.

The latest PMLA case, filed by the ED, emerged from a CBI FIR of August 17, where Ratul Puri, his father Deepak Puri, mother Nita (Nath’s sister) and others were booked in connection with a Rs 354 crore bank fraud case filed by the Central Bank of India.

The bank had claimed that the company and its directors forged and fabricated documents to induce the Central Bank of India to release funds.

The Puri family, other individuals like Sanjay Jain and Vineet Sharma were booked by the CBI for alleged criminal conspiracy, cheating, forgery and corruption.

Ratul Puri was booked in this case in his capacity as executive director of Moser Baer India Limited (MBIL), a firm promoted by his father Deepak Puri.

The company manufactured optical storage media like compact discs, DVDs, solid state storage devices.

Ratul Puri is facing criminal investigation by three main central probe agencies, ED, CBI and the Income Tax department.

The Supreme Court agrees to hear PIL seeking consecutive jail terms in cases of corruption and terrorism

The Supreme Court on Thursday agreed to hear after four weeks the PIL seeking various jail terms awarded to a convict under special laws on corruption and terrorism to run consecutively, as in countries like the US, and not concurrently.

A bench headed by Chief Justice S A Bobde considered the submissions by lawyer and BJP leader Ashwini Upadhyay that the plea needed an urgent hearing as the apex court had issued the notice to the Centre way back in March this year.

He said that the pleadings such as filing of responses by the Centre to the petition has already been completed and it be now listed for hearing.

“Let the matter be listed after four weeks,” said the bench, which also comprised justices B R Gavai and Surya Kant.

The plea had said that the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) provision, which provides that a convict can serve varying jail terms simultaneously for several offences, should not be made applicable to the convicts in heinous cases.

Section 31 of the CrPC should not apply to special laws such as the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA), the Prevention of Corruption Act (PCA), the Prohibition of Benami Property Transactions Act, the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA), the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act (FCRA), the Black Money and Imposition of Tax Act, and Fugitive Economic Offenders Act, the PIL said.

PMLA Appellate Tribunal also releases assets of 63 Moons from ED attachment.

The PMLA Appellate Tribunal, on Tuesday released the assets of 63 moons from attachment by the Enforcement Directorate
(ED). This order comes soon after the Bombay High Court order, which quashed  the attachments of 63 moons assets under the MPID Act.
However, the Tribunal, after quashing the attachment orders, has made it subject to filing of an indemnity bond within a week. The Tribunal has restrained 63 moons
from dealing with the released assets till pendency of the trial of the larger issues in the PMLA court. 63 moons, based on sound legal advice, is of the opinion that
passing of this sort of restraint order and of seeking an indemnity bond, particularly when the orders of attachment have been quashed, is beyond the power of the
Tribunal under the PMLA. 63 moons will take appropriate legal recourse against this part of the order.

Delhi court allows Robert Vadra to travel abroad on business

 A Delhi court on Friday allowed Robert Vadra, the son-in-law of Congress chief Sonia Gandhi, to travel abroad for business purposes.

Special judge Arvind Kumar granted permission to Vadra to travel to Spain from September 21 to October 8.

Vadra is facing probe under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA).

Justice Sunil Gaur, Who Rejected Chidambaram’s Bail Plea, Appointed Chairman of PMLA Tribunal

Days after he paved the way for the arrest of Former FM P Chidambaram by denying him interim bail, now-retired Delhi HC judge Justice Sunil Gaur was on Wed. appointed the chairperson of the Appellate Tribunal for Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA).

Gaur is set to take over the post from Sept 23. He had retired as an HC judge on Aug 23, 2 days after he rejected Chidambaram’s plea for anticipatory bail & said called him the “kingpin or key conspirator” in the INX Media case. The former HC judge also said that granting bail to Chidambaram would convey a wrong message to the society.

Earlier, he had also passed an order clearing the decks for prosecution of top Congress leaders, including Sonia & Rahul Gandhi, in the National Herald case. Justice Gaur was elevated to the HC in Apr 2008. He was designated as a permanent judge on Apr 11, 2012.

Gaur started his career at the Punjab & Haryana HC in 1984 & joined the Delhi Higher Judicial Service in 1995.

During his tenure, he heard several other high profile cases. Last week, he had also denied anticipatory bail to businessman Ratul Puri, nephew of senior Congress leader & MP CM Kamal Nath, in the AgustaWestland chopper scam.

ED to High Court: Seized Choksi firm’s jewellery for involvement in laundering

Jewellery stock of Gitanjali Gems were seized as it was being in direct control of diamantaire Mehul Choksi, who has refused to join investigation, and involved in money laundering, the Enforcement Directorate (ED) today told the Delhi High Court.

ED contended that the proceed of crime generated through criminal activities arising out of the scheduled offences under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) were “layered and integrated in the veil of huge bullion/ jewellery business of Mehul Choksi in order to project the same as untainted property, which includes the business of Gitanjali Gems”.

A bench of Justices S Muralidhar and I S Mehta were hearing a plea by Choksi’s firm challenging the alleged illegal seizure of documents and articles by the probe agency in a money laundering case in connection with the over Rs 11,000 crore Punjab National Bank (PNB) fraud case.

In its affidavit, ED said, “The jewellery stock of the petitioner (Gitanjali Gems) has been seized with the reason to believe, recorded in writing on the basis of information/ documents in possession, that the petitioner company, being under the direct control of prime accused Mehul Choksi is very much involved in the process of money laundering.”

Billionaire Nirav Modi, his uncle Choksi and others are being investigated by multiple probe agencies after the scam came to light in January following a complaint by the PNB that they had allegedly cheated the nationalised bank to the tune of Rs 11,400 crore, with the purported involvement of a few employees of the bank.

The ED has registered the money laundering case against Modi, his firms and others on the basis of a CBI FIR.

Delhi Court allows ED to quiz Kashmiri businessman in Terror funding case.

A Delhi court today allowed the Enforcement Directorate to interrogate a Kashmiri businessman in connection with a terror funding case involving LeT chief and 26/11 Mumbai attack mastermind Hafiz Saeed to unearth the money trail.

Additional Sessions Judge Tarun Sherawat allowed the application filed by ED’s counsel Nitesh Rana seeking permission to quiz Zahoor Watali, an influential businessman allegedly having friendship with Pakistani leaders and Kashmiri separatists, for two days – March 19 and 20.

Watali, who was arrested by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) on charges of receiving funds from Pakistan to sponsor terror activities and stone-pelting in Kashmir, is at present lodged in Tihar jail.

He is said to be close to hardline separatist leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani.

In its application, the probe agency said it was conducting an investigation under the provisions of the Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA) against Watali for allegedly receiving funds from abroad.

“In the course of the investigation under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) and the FEMA, the interrogation of accused Zahoor Ahmad Shah Watali is required along with recording of separate statements under the PMLA and the FEMA,” it said.

A charge sheet was filed by the NIA in January this year against Hafiz Saeed, Hizbul Mujahideen leader Syed Salahuddin and others for “conspiring to wage war against the government” and fomenting trouble in the Kashmir Valley.

The court had on February 2 taken cognisance of the charge sheet.

The 12,794-page charge sheet also alleged that officials of the Pakistan High Commission here were passing on money through Watali to the separatists.

The separatist leaders have been accused of taking a cut before handing over the money to foment trouble.

Saeed has also been accused of using the services of Watali for passing on the money to the separatists and some individuals who were actively indulging in stone-pelting in various areas of the Valley, the NIA said in the charge sheet.

The agency has charged Pakistan-based terrorists Saeed and Salahuddin, besides others, with criminal conspiracy, sedition, and under stringent provisions of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act.

It said 60 locations were raided and 950 documents seized. There are 300 witnesses in the case.

Besides Saeed, Salahuddin and Watali, the agency has also named hardline pro-Pakistan separatist Syed Ali Shah Geelani’s son-in-law Altaf Shah alias Altaf Fantoosh, Bashir Ahmad Bhat and Javed Ahmad Bhat as accused.

Hurriyat Conference leaders Nayeem Ahmad Khan, Farooq Ahmad Dar alias Bitta Karate, Mohammad Akbar Khanday and Raja Mehrajuddin Kalwal have also been charged by the agency in the terror funding case.

Saeed, Salahuddin and their Pakistani handlers informed people about the agenda of violence through “protest calendars”, the charge sheet said. These calendars were released through newspapers, social media and religious leaders, according to it.

These acts were aimed at creating an atmosphere of terror and fear in Jammu and Kashmir, the charge sheet alleged.

It claimed money was also routed through fake and bogus companies floated abroad and remitted to the Hurriyat leaders in J and K.

Warrant issued against Nirav Modi in Tax evasion case.

A magistrate’s court here today issued a bailable arrest warrant against diamond trader Nirav Modi in connection with a case of alleged tax evasion in purchase of a property which turned out to be “benami”, an Income Tax department official said.

Benami properties are those that are not bought and registered in the name of their real owner. Holding benami properties is an offence.

Modi is also a key accused in the Rs 12,717 crore Punjab National Bank fraud case.

“The court has issued a bailable warrant against Modi,” the official said.

He said the department was investigating the matter against Modi since 2017 but declined to disclose the details of the property.

The Income Tax department had recorded the statements of Modi, who is said to be in the US, and some of his employees.

The official said the probe revealed that Modi had given a false statement to department

“When we went to his residence in Worli recently with summons, we found it locked,” the officer said. A case was later filed in the court.

The court adjourned the case till next month.