SC asks auditor to examine diversion of funds by Amrapali group

The Supreme Court today again took note of the alleged diversion of Rs 2,765 crore fund collected from home buyers by the Amrapali group of companies and asked the auditor to find out where this money had gone.

The apex court also told Amrapali group to furnish all the bank account details of directors of its 40 group firms.

"If you do not give the correct information, you will be held for contempt," a bench of Justices Arun Mishra and U U Lalit told Advocate Gaurav Bhatia, representing the group.

The court had yesterday observed that diversion of funds collected from investors by real estate developers was a "malady" and it wanted to stop this "nonsense" once and for all.

The bench asked two chartered accountants (CAs), who were present in the court and had handled work of the group till 2015, to find out how this money was diverted or transferred by the company in other projects.

"You are the CA. You are supposed to be the watchdog. We want to know about movement of fund of Rs 2,765 crore. Where that money has gone, we want to know. We want to know the complete movement of this Rs 2,765 crore," the bench told one of the CAs who had handled the work of the group from 2008 till 2015.

"We want you to trace the entire movement of money and inform us," the bench said.

One of the two CAs told the bench that he had handled the work of Amrapali group from 2013 till 2015 and after that had not received any balance sheet from the company.

Bhatia, who was representing the group, said there was no diversion or siphoning of funds by the company.

"We request the auditor to find out how much money has been diverted or transferred to other projects and let project wise report be placed before us," the bench said and posted the matter for hearing on the issue for September 4.

The apex court asked the company to furnish the requisite details to the auditor and directed the internal auditor of the group to cooperate in the process.

During the hearing, the National Buildings Construction Corporation (NBCC) India Ltd told the court it was ready to "undertake" the projects of Amrapali group, which has failed to hand over possession of flats to around 42,000 home buyers.

The counsel appearing for the home buyers also said they have trust in NBCC and instead of handing over the work to any other private co-developer, the corporation should be entrusted with the task of completing the projects.

The bench told Durga Shanker Mishra, secretary in the Union Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs, that a committee headed by him to look into the issue of home buyers of Noida, Greater Noida and Yamuna Expressway should not have called Amrapali group's representative in a meeting by the panel without apex court's consent.

"When you knew that the matter is sub-judice, you should not have called Amrapali group in the meeting. Your communication (to the group) was used here to scuttle the hearing," the bench said.

The secretary told the bench that he never intended to violate any orders of the court and that the committee was only working to solve the problem of home buyers.

"If you are trying to solve the problem, then go into its root," the bench said, adding, "It is sheer contempt".

It said the committee or the NBCC should first take the court into confidence before proceeding in any matter which was sub-judice.

The bench told NBCC Chairman Dr Anoop Kumar Mittal to come out with a concrete proposal within 30 days as to how it proposed to complete the projects along with a time line of work.

"We have some constraint. These are not those matters which can linger on. There are no fire fighting equipments, no water (where possession has been given to buyers) and in case, any calamity happens, it will be a tremendous risk for the people residing there," the bench observed.

Bhatia said he would compile all the details of bank accounts of the group companies as well its directors and place it before the court within three days.

The top court had yesterday cracked the whip on the Amrapali group for what it said playing "fraud" and "dirty games" with the court and ordered attachment of all the bank accounts and movable properties of 40 firms of the real estate major.

It had also directed the group to place before it the details of all of its bank accounts from 2008 till today and ordered freezing of bank accounts of all the directors of its 40 firms, besides attaching their personal properties.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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