Gautam Thapar is the promoter of Avantha Group and former chairman of CG Power and Industrial Solutions. He belongs to the third generation of the family business established in 1919 by his grandfather Karam Chand Thapar.
Gautam Thapar received his education from Doon School in Dehradun and graduated from St. Stephen's College in Delhi. Later, he studied chemical engineering at the Pratt Institute in the United States.
The 60-year-old tycoon played a significant role in turning the organisation into a behemoth and in getting it renamed as the Avantha Group of Companies. Thapar progressed through the ranks and helped the organisation through a strategic revival.
He became the Group Chairman in 2006 and rebranded the conglomerate as Avantha in 2007. He reached the helm of affairs in the family business and was considered a corporate turnaround specialist after reviving a few of the group's loss-making firms.
Thapar is the President of Thapar University, National Institute of Industrial Engineering (NITIE), and The Aspen Institute India. In 2008, he received Ernst & Young's 'Entrepreneur of the Year Award for Manufacturing'.
Gautam Thapar's arrest
On August 5, 2021, Gautam Thapar was arrested by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) in connection with a Rs 500-crore money laundering case. He was held under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA).
The agency told the Delhi High Court that around Rs 500 crore worth of proceeds of crime were laundered through Oyster Buildwell Pvt Ltd (OBPL), Jhabua Power Limited (JPL), Jhabua Power Investment Ltd. (JPIL), Avantha Power & Infrastructure Ltd (APIL), Avantha Realty Ltd. (ARL), etc, which were controlled and beneficially owned directly or indirectly by Gautam Thapar.
The ED has been probing an alleged transaction between Thapar's firm Avantha Realty and YES Bank co-founder Rana Kapoor, who is already being investigated by the agency.
Thapar faced the first setback when Avantha Realty, one of his group companies, borrowed Rs 515 crore from YES Bank in 2017. Two years later, that loan transaction was then defaulted on.
According to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), he was accused of causing a loss of Rs 466 crore to YES Bank. Since then, the businessman has faced multiple charges for alleged financial scams, corruption and money laundering.
In 2019, Thapar was removed as chairman of the board of directors of CG Power, an Avantha Group flagship, following allegations of ‘irregular transactions’ in the company.
Markets regulator Securities and Exchange Board of India (Sebi) also barred him and some other executives from accessing the securities market. It was his association and financial dealings with YES Bank and its founder Rana Kapoor that triggered intense scrutiny of his business transactions, amid allegations of financial fraud and money laundering.