With history of bankruptcy, top Yes Bank investor may not meet RBI norms

Topics YES Bank | RBI | Banking sector

Erwin Singh Braich, who has promised to invest $1.2 billion in beleaguered Yes Bank, has a history of failed businesses, bankruptcies, litigation with the Canadian government, police and family dispute over properties, as per court filings. The troubled history will make it difficult to clear the investment and whether Braich will clear the “fit and proper” criteria for investments in banks, say analysts.

Yes Bank has said none of the potential investors will get more than 25 per cent stake in the bank but taking into account, Braich’s investment is worth Rs 8,640 crore as compared to Rs 15,557 crore market valuation of Yes Bank as of today.

The bank had earlier decalted that it has received a binding offer from a North America-based family office but did not disclose the name. When the bank finally made the Braich name public, the markets were disappointed as Braich is not a marquee investor and will not be able to meet RBI’s norms.

When he was 20 years old, Erwin Singh Braich, now 62, had left Simon Fraser University in Burnaby, British Columbia to assume control of his father’s businesses. According to a media statement issued on January 2, 2013, he built his family businesses into a multi-million dollar conglomerate, expanding what his father, a migrant from India, had begun.

The statement was issued after Braich filed a lawsuit against the Public Prosecution Service of Canada and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police after the latter threatened to arrest him on minor charges related to bankruptcy proceedings.

This was not the first time that Braich had alleged that the process has been abused by the Crown and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. Both settled out of court with Braich, in a different litigation, in Seattle in 2007, the statement had said.

Other court filings in Canada show that in 1999, Braich was sent to bankruptcy court and had declared zero assets. A website cites Braich as North America's first Sikh Billionaire without giving any details of his assets. Court documets say that shortly before Erwin was declared bankrupt, he transferred and assigned all his interest in his father’s Estate to Clock Holdings Ltd.

In 2013, Braich’s lawyer Jamshed Mistry was quoted as saying the net aggregate value of Braich’s trusts makes him the second-richest person in Canada and one the top three wealthiest Indians in the world, along with Mukesh Ambani of Reliance Industries and Lakshmi Mittal of ArcelorMittal. There is no independent confirmation of his wealth -- either via stock market listings in his name or in any rich list.

But like Ratan Tata, Mistry said, Braich also conducts his business activities through various trusts and does not appear on in any list of billionaires.


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