Whistleblower alleges siphoning of funds from MIAL; GVK gets MCA notice

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The GVK Group, which is in locked in a legal battle with the Adani Group on stake sale in its flagship Mumbai International Airport (MIAL), on Tuesday said it has received a notice from the corporate affairs ministry (MCA), seeking some details about the airport operator.

The group is resisting the Adanis' bid to buy out the 13.5 percent stake being held by its South African JV partner Bidvest in MIAL. The issue is with the Bombay High Court.

The Hyderabad-based infrastructure major, which has interest in power, coal mines and aviation among others, however, denied that other group companies have also received notices from the ministry.

"We confirm only MIAL has received a communication asking for certain details/information, which are being furnished," GVK said in a statement.

MIAL is a JV between GVK-led consortium of Bidvest and Airports Company of South Africa, and the state-run Airports Authority, in which GVK holds majority 50.5 percent and AAI 26 percent and the remaining 23.5 percent are with the two foreign partners.

While Bid Services Division Mauritius or Bidvest owns 13.5 percent, ACSA Global (Airports Company of South Africa) holds 10 percent in the nation's second busiest airport.

The statement came after a section of the media reported that the GVK group was on the ministry radar following a whistle-blower alleging siphoning of funds, issuance of fake bills to inflate cost to get undue Customs and Excise duty benefits among others.

"We are not aware of any whistleblower complaint or any allegations that have appeared in a section of the media, which are baseless," the company said.

GVK also claimed that none of the group companies, barring MIAL, have received any notice from the ministry.

The tussle with the Adanis has its origins in GVK not letting Bidvest sell its stake in MIAL to Adanis instead it wants to buy out both South African partners.

In the meanwhile, the Adanis had entered into a share purchase agreement with Bidvest and following GVK's bid to stall it, the Adanis dragged the matter to an arbitration tribunal which asked GVK to make the payments by September 30 first and then it was extended to October 31.

In the meanwhile, the Adanis dragged the matter to the Bombay High Court early October where the matter is being heard now.

The Adanis are betting big on the airports space, having bagged mandate to run six domestic airports from AAI earlier this year and are keen to have a foothold in the nation's second busiest airport by purchasing the 13.5 percent stake with the South African firms.

Bidvest had agreed to sell its entire stake in MIAL to Adanis for Rs 1,248 crore or Rs 77 a share and the Adanis moved the Bombay HC last month seeking execution of its agreement with Bidvest.

An arbitration tribunal had on September 15 gave GVK time till October 31 to pay Bidvest. The initial deadline was September 30.

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