Rana Gurjit Singh, Punjab’s Power and Irrigation Minister who is in the eye of a storm over a dubious sand mine auction, had taken loans from at least five companies that showed little turnover, no business activity other than taking and giving unsecured loans and were not even housed at their official addresses.
One of the five companies shared the address of a firm owned by the minister’s family. Rana Gurjit, according to his 2017 Assembly election affidavit, had taken loans of over Rs 98 crore from the five companies. The cloud of suspicion fell on the minister after it came to light that his former aide, Amit Bahadur, had won a sand mine e-auction that cost him Rs 26 crore, although his tax returns did not reflect financial wherewithal to make such a bid.
In his poll affidavit the minister mentioned 12 companies from which he had taken loans. He did not mention the years in which the loans were taken.
The Indian Express tried to track all 12 companies and found out that five have near-zero turnover, according to details given to the Registrar of Companies (RoC) for the financial years 2014-15 and 2015-16.
Amit, the minister’s one-time aide, is named as a director in one of the five companies, Flawless Traders Pvt Ltd. The company had loaned Rs 16.22 crore to Rana Gurjit and Rs 51 lakh to his wife Rajbans Kaur.
The Indian Express accessed documents relating to the five firms — Venus Pesticides Pvt Ltd, Fortune Online Marketing Network Pvt Ltd, Jay Aar Builders Pvt Ltd, Flawless Traders Pvt Ltd and Camelot Exports Pvt Ltd. None of these showed revenue from operations through, say, sale of goods manufactured or traded, or any supply of services.
Repeated attempts to reach the minister failed. His phone was switched off.
The documents of Camelot with the RoC for 2013-14 show the company had unsecured borrowings of Rs 23.58 crore. The same year, Camelot gave loans totalling Rs 22.11 crore. The net profit was shown as Rs 55,281.
According to his poll affidavit, Rana Gurjit had taken a loan of Rs 34.9 crore from Camelot Exports, Rs 46.4 crore from Jay Aar Builders, Rs 3.81 lakh from Fortune Online Marketing Network Pvt Ltd, Rs 16.22 crore from Flawless Traders Pvt Ltd and Rs 41.50 lakh from Venus Pesticides Pvt Ltd. Wife Rajbans had shown loans worth Rs 1.25 crore from Camelot, Rs 51 lakh from Flawless Traders and Rs 85.50 lakh from Jay Aar Builders.
When the addresses of the companies, as recorded with the RoC, were checked, it turned out that four did not exist at those addresses. Fortune Online Marketing Network’s address turned out to be the same as that of Rana Informatics Pvt Ltd, owned by the minister’s family. The employees at that address — plot at B-103, Industrial Area Phase VIII, Mohali — however, said they had never heard of the firm.
The address of Venus Pesticides — House 2088, Sector 21-C Chandigarh — is a house where residents knew nothing about such a company. The address of Jay Aar Builders Pvt Ltd was — SCO 116-117, Sector 8-C in Chandigarh, but the firm did not have its office there. Camelot turned out to be vacant residential quarters in Punjab Agriculture University, Ludhiana.