Justice Lodha committee pegs(सीमा) Pearl group liability(देयता)at Rs 81,500 crore
NEW DELHI: The Justice R M Lodha committee, which has been asked by the Supreme Court to auction properties of Pearls (मोती) Group of companies to refund Rs 57,000 crore to around six crore investors, told the court that the group's total liability was over Rs 80,000 crore but its properties were worth only Rs 7,600 crore. In a report filed in the SC, the committee said the group had not given details of all its properties and asked the court to direct it to hand over documents of its all assets which could be auctioned to meet the liability.
The apex court had appointed the committee headed by former CJI R M Lodha in February last year to sell properties of the group and had granted it six months to refund the money to investors. The committee, however, failed to meet the deadline and said the company was not cooperating and had not handed over details of its properties which were to be auctioned.
After the Sahara case, this is the second time where the top court has intervene to protect the interest of investors. But the task before the Lodha committee is more onerous as the number of investors and amount involved is more than double of the Sahara case. Sahara had raised around Rs 24,000 crore from three crore investors.
The money was collected by the Nirmal Singh Bhangoo-managed group through its two companies — Pearls Agrotech Corporation Limited (PACL) and Pearls Golden Forest Limited (PGFL), in ponzi schemes for development of agricultural land. The group is engaged in real estate business and develops group housing projects, townships, shopping malls and farm houses.
The CBI, which was directed by the top court in 2013 to investigate the matter, has registered a case against the company and its officials for duping investors and it arrested group chairman and managing director (CMD) Bhangoo along with three Directors of the company who are right now in judicial custody.
Lodha committee in its report said that the fund of the investors was not utilised exclusively for purchase of properties and a sum of Rs. 2800 crore is still with its erstwhile brokers and agents. It said that company had not disclosed many high value properties, including its foreign assets and pleaded the court to direct the company to furnish all property documents. The company has given details of around 29,000 properties owned by it.
"It has principal liability towards the investor is around Rs 57000 Crore. Besides, there is demand from IT Department to the tune of Rs 24,500 crore. In addition to above, the Company has several other liability that may be more than Rs 1000 crore comprising of rental dues, salary and other related statutory dues, maintenance charges against the properties/offices, whereas the value mentioned in the documents of the properties available with the Committee is about Rs 7,600 crore only, which does not appear to even sufficient to meet the liability to the investors," it said in its report.
The committee said that 941 properties had so far been put up for auction and out of which 872 properties had been sold. Expression of Interest(EOI) was invited for 27,500 properties of the firm but people showed their interest in only 4103 properties, thus in the case of 85% of properties there was no interest in the market for buying, it said.