Pharma firm at centre of probe owes Rs 1,500 cr to investors

The court has raised questions over lack of disclosure on write-offs of over Rs 1,300 crore in financial year 2013-14 by Elder Pharmaceuticals.

Written by Khushboo Narayan | Mumbai | Published: July 21, 2016 4:12 am

Elder Pharmaceuticals, the Mumbai-based company which has been accused of bribing director-general of corporate affairs, B K Bansal, to stall a government probe, owes Rs 1,514.84 crore to depositors and investors, according to documents reviewed by The Indian Express.

The listed pharma company has defaulted on fixed deposit payments of Rs 155.17 crore to at least 23,000 small investors and is facing multiple winding up petitions in the Bombay High Court and the Company Law Board (CLB) in Mumbai and New Delhi for the last two years.

On March 25, the CLB dismissed a petition filed by Elder Pharmaceuticals seeking more time to repay depositors as the managing director of the company, Alok Saxena, failed to adhere to the re-payment timeline ordered by the court.

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In February, the BSE Ltd suspended trading in shares of Elder Pharmaceuticals and two other group firms, and froze the entire promoter shareholding of the firms for not submitting financial results in time.

Phone calls to the registered office of the company in Mumbai and an email sent to its company secretary remained unanswered.

The troubles for Alok Saxena and his brother Anuj Saxena, TV actor and the chief operating officer of Elder Pharmaceuticals, started with the demise of their father and founder, Jagdish Saxena, in 2013. The family locked horns over control of property and other assets left behind by Jagdish Saxena, with the brothers on the one side and their mother and sister on the other.

On the business front too, the company, which had made several investments in India and abroad, started facing short-term fund issues. This led to a slump sale of the most popular brand of Elder Pharma ? Shelcal and 29 other brands to Torrent Pharma in 2014 for Rs 2,004 crore, said submissions of the company in the high court.

According to the high court documents, at least 24 creditors and investors of Elder Pharmaceuticals, including Tata Capital Financial Services, which had bought debentures worth Rs 15 crore filed winding up petitions against the company over non-payment of dues. More than 100 proceedings have been filed in the high court by the creditors of the firm.

The court has raised questions over lack of disclosure on write-offs of over Rs 1,300 crore in financial year 2013-14 by Elder Pharmaceuticals.

”There is no explanation till date for a huge amount of trade advances of Rs 1031.56 crore and trade receivables of Rs 322.70 crore having been written off in a single financial year, i.e. 2013-14, during which a slump sale of its substantial business as a going concern was accomplished. No particulars concerning this write-off were provided to the independent auditors,” said the order issued on October 1, 2015.

The Bombay High Court has admitted the winding up petitions against the company citing its weak financials, inadequate provision of gratuity benefit to company’s workmen and its attempt to “hoodwink the court” by submitting a “ubiquitous term sheet” with an unnamed financial institution to solve the financial problems of the firm.

Now the CBI has filed an FIR against Anuj Saxena and arrested four people, including Bansal, in connection with a Rs 50-lakh bribery case. The CBI has alleged Elder Pharmaceuticals bribed Bansal so he does not order an SFIO inspection against the company on charges of illegal collection of deposits from investors. Saxena is believed to be abroad.

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