Enforcement Directorate examines Edelweiss ARC investment in Kohinoor group

Raj Thackeray
The Enforcement Directorate (ED) is examining an investment of Rs 450 crore made by Edelweiss Asset Reconstruction Company (ARC) in Kohinoor CTNL Infrastructure. This is part of the ED probe into alleged irregularities in awarding loans and investment made in the real estate firm by beleaguered Infrastructure Leasing & Financial Services (IL&FS). 

The ED had called ARC executive (project manager) four days back to understand the deal structure, rationale behind the steep haircut from banks and also the status of a residential-cum-commercial project Kohinoor Square Tower, at Dadar, Mumbai. 

In 2016, the asset reconstruction company (ARC) had taken over the debt from a clutch of banks and financial institutions to revive an incomplete real estate project. Besides taking over the debt, ARC made payments to the tune of Rs 450 crore. 

However, in 2017, ARC moved the National Company Law Tribunal after the Kohinoor group failed to repay a mounting debt of Rs 1,000 crore. The NCLT court allowed the SSA to take over the project after the resolution professional S V Ramkumar proposed the architect’s name.  A query sent to Edelweiss ARC did not elicit any response. 

Kohinoor CTNL, promoted by Unmesh Joshi, son of former Maharastara Chief Minister Manohar Joshi, Maharastra Navnirman Sena (MNS) Chief Raj Thackeray and his business partner Rajan Shirodkar in Rs 442 crore. 

The IL&FS group has made loan and equity investment to the tune of Rs 1,000 crore in Kohinoor for development purposes. The ED is investigating the investment and the shareholders in Kohinoor CTNL, for which a venture was formed by Joshi, Thackeray Shirodkar to purchase a mill. 

Thackeray and Joshi have been questioned by the enforcement sleuths at its Mumbai office since early this week. Thackeray appeared on Thursday along with his wife at ED Mumbai office, where his statement was recorded. 

Sources in the ARC said they bought the debt from banks when Kohinoor Square was stuck for many years for lack of funding. Edelweiss ARC stepped in and organised funding of Rs 475 crore to revive and resolve the project. 

The project has been completed and commercial owners have been given occupation certificates.  

The Rs 2,000-crore Kohinoor project is being completed by Sandeep Shirke and Associates (SSA), a Prabhadevi-based architectural firm. Manohar Joshi's son Unmesh, who initially owned the Kohinoor Square, lost control of the property which was one of the most ambitious real estate projects in Mumbai. 

Investigation findings in the matter say that initially IL&FS had made investment in the Kohinoor in a phased manner. Initially, it had put Rs 225 crore, which is half the equity and booked loss for only Rs 90 crore. After surrendering its equity, IL&FS again advanced loan to Kohinoor CTNL, which the firm failed to repay. 

Later, the IL&FS entered into an agreement with CTNL and settled Rs 500 crore pending loan amount in exchange of selling residential-commercial premises of Kohinoor Square.  After this so called settlement, the IL&FS made further lending to the real estate developer of Rs 135 crore. 

ED has recorded Kohinoor CTNL chief financial officer and also called other associates for questioning. 

On Friday morning, the Edelweiss ARC made a clarification in the stock exchange on the said matter. 

According to it, “ED has asked for some information and understanding of the process and the same has been briefed to them by us( ARC)." 

It further said that public sector banks had extended loans to Kohinoor Square project in 2010, which subsequently turned NPA. From 2015 onwards, Edelweiss ARC participated in public auctions and bought the loans. ARC exposure is about Rs 120 crore invested under the 15:85 structure.

“The current probe on IL&FS  Kohinoor transactions are for the period of 2005-2012 and related to transactions entered into by IL&FS and certain parties. Edelweiss group had no exposure to Kohinoor during that period.” it said. 

With the intention of completing the project and providing relief to both the small business owners, home buyers and banks, Edelweiss ARC took the company through IBC process. A plan was approved by NCLT that would deliver unit owners their houses and small offices along with payment to lenders. The project is moving at fast pace and is nearing completion with small shop owners having already been offered possession. The resolution of the asset is also on track to provide all lenders with maximum possible recovery.” it added. 

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