The Supreme Court on Wednesday called the Amrapali Group a “perfect liar” and “worst kind of cheater” as it ordered attachment and sale of its five-star hotel, cinema hall, malls and factories across India for not complying with its directions.
A bench of justices Arun Mishra and UU Lalit also ordered attachment of four swanky corporate offices of the embattled reality firm located in Noida and Greater Noida. The Debt Recovery Tribunal (DRT) was directed to auction the properties.
In a stern order, the bench also asked the firm’s directors and their family members to return home-buyers’ money, if they have it, by December 10. Notices were also issued to the group chairman and managing director Anil Sharma, chief financial officer (CFO) Chandra Wadhwa and statutory auditor Anil Mittal as to why a case for criminal breach of trust should not be lodged against them.
The SC, which is hearing a batch of petitions filed by home buyers who are seeking possession of around 42,000 flats booked in Amrapali Group projects, gave its order after advocate ML Lahoty, appearing for the homebuyers, submitted the company had defrauded the investors and should be prosecuted under criminal law. He alleged the company had diverted around Rs 3,000 crore of home-buyers’ money for other purposes, a charge the company denied.
“You (Amrapali Group) are a worst kind of cheater in the world. You have cheated the home buyers all along and now you want to sell the facilities created for them. The facility area created for the home buyers is not a charity you have done to them,” the bench said after it was told that the real estate firm wants to sell a nursery school, an open space and a nursing home to raise funds.
The court gave a day’s time to the group to hand over raw data files of its business transactions, including the vouchers, receipt and the required authorisation for the 2015-18 period, to court-appointed forensic auditors. The firm faced flak repeatedly for non-compliance of the court’s direction because it failed to give details of its business transactions for this period.
“”You are a perfect liar. You are a first degree liar. You have not given specific information what we have asked for in our earlier orders. We are not satisfied with your affidavit and you have only tried to manipulate the things. Despite our nine orders, you have not given specific information about business transactions for period 2015-18,” Justice Mishra said.
The properties to be attached and auctioned forthwith by DRT include five-star hotel Amrapali Holiday Inn Tech Park at Greater Noida, a FMCG company called Amrapali Biotech and Mums situated in Rajgir and Buxar districts of Bihar, Amrapali Malls in Bihar’s Gaya and Muzaffarpur and Uttar Pradesh’s Bareilly, Hitech City movie hall at UP’s Meerut,, Amrapali precast factory at Greater Noida and land in Purnia in Bihar and Bhubneshwar, apart from a villa in Goa.
Attachment of luxury cars was also ordered after the court was told they were purchased from the home buyers’ money.
The court, referring to a company affidavit, noted the group had invested Rs 1,100 crore of home-buyers’ money in purchasing the shares of a sister company and questioned this transaction. Saying the money did not belong to the promoters, it ordered the company to give details of authorization to purchase the shares.
When told that there could have been “benami” (proxy) home buyers, the court directed the forensic auditors to issue notices to such flat owners and put the specific property on sale if they received no response.
On November 13, the court had attached company’s 100-bed multi-speciality hospital, bank accounts, the building which houses its office, certain firms and a “benami” villa in Goa. The CFO was asked to deposit Rs 11.69 crore with its registry within three weeks. It also asked statutory auditor Anil Mittal to pay Rs 47 lakh. The realty firm has already been restrained from alienating its companies through which it had transactions.
First Published: Dec 05, 2018 22:08 IST