The web of financial transactions between Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh, members of his family and controversial businessman Vakamulla Chandrashekhar involve money transfers from him to the CM and his family via at least five companies that ceased to exist. And, in one case, money moved back and forth between the two sides.
This is revealed in an investigation by The Indian Express based on Registrar of Companies records and bank statements, including the one made public by Leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha, Arun Jaitley.
As per that statement, on January 10, 2012, Chandrashekhar received Rs 49.99 lakh in his personal account from Maple Destinations, a company owned by the CM’s son and daughter, Vikramaditya Singh and Aprajita Kumari, respectively. The very next day, this amount was transferred to Tarini International, a company of Chandrashekhar’s Tarini group. As per RoC records, in the financial year 2011-12, Maple received Rs 49.99 lakh from Tarini Sugar and Distillaries Ltd, another company of the Tarini group.
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No one from the CM’s family responded to questions from The Indian Express on this transaction and others and involving companies that didn’t exist. Chandrashekhar denied any wrongdoing and said he was “open for any investigation at any levels”.
Between November 4 and November 21, 2011, Chandrashekhar, as per his bank statement, received inflows into his personal account amounting to Rs 1.6 crore from six companies. During the same period — November 4 to November 29 — a total of Rs 1.75 crore was transferred to the accounts of Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh, wife Pratibha Singh and son Vikramaditya Singh.
Consider the nature of these transactions:
* One of these six companies is Punjab Foods Private Ltd. On November 21, 2011, Punjab Foods deposited Rs 45.5 lakh into Chandrashekhar’s account and four days later, Rs 40 lakh from here was transferred to Vikramaditya Singh’s account.
Incidentally, six months earlier, on April 18, 2011, Punjab Foods had filed an application before RoC, Chandigarh, to wind up its operations.
That application stated, “Pritpal Singh (director of the company), informed the members the company is not having any business activity for the last 10 years. Further company is having neither any assets nor any liabilities, therefore Easy Exit Scheme 2011 is opted for the closure of the company”.
The company was officially wound up on April 20, 2011. Yet, Chandrashekhar’s account showed a deposit of Rs 21.50 lakh from Punjab Foods as late as July 24, 2012.
Speaking to The Indian Express on January 2, Chandrashekhar had said he received money from Punjab Foods against agricultural produce he sold.
* On November 4, 2011, Chandrashekhar had a balance of Rs 4.05 lakh in his account. Over the next five days, Rs 92.90 lakh came into it from Kesari Nandan and Co (Rs 17.99 lakh), Shiva Stores (Rs 15.01 lakh), Jai Durga Impex (Rs 12.25 lakh), Laxmi Enterprises (Rs 7.65 lakh), Siddharth International (Rs 26 lakh) and one Suraj Singh (Rs 14 lakh). On November 11, Chandrashekhar transferred Rs 65 lakh, in two transactions, to Virbhadhra Singh’s account.
According to the RoC records, Jai Durga Impex, Shiva Stores, Kesari Nandan and Co and Siddharth International all had ceased to exist before any of these transactions.
From Chandrashekhar’s account, a transaction of unknown value failed on November 15, due to “insufficient funds”.
* Between November 17 and November 21, Chandrashekhar’s account received Rs 45.5 lakh from Punjab Foods and Rs 53 lakh from from one “V Chandra Shekhar”. Four days later, Rs 71.80 lakh in two instalments of Rs 40 lakh and Rs 31.8 lakh was transferred to CM’s son Vikramaditya Singh from Chandrashekhar’s account.
Subsequent to this transfer — and some minor transfers not related to the CM’s family — Chandrashekhar’s account balance became Rs 55.05 lakh on November 25, 2011. On November 29, 2011 two instalments of Rs 25 lakh each were transferred to Pratibha Singh and Virbhadhra Singh.
His balance after these transactions was Rs 4.73 lakh, marginally higher than what it was when the transactions began.
When asked about the transactions with the CM and his family, Chandrashekhar said: “These companies are vendor companies with whom we have had trade relationships. We have done all transactions legitimately through banks. Whether they are doing business still or not, I am not competent to answer as it is purely their business.”
Despite telephone calls and text messages Vikramaditya Singh was not available for comment. Jaitley has accused Virbhadra of granting an extension to Venture Energy and Technology, promoted by Chandrashekhar, for executing a hydel project.
Asked about the money received from Maple, Chandrashekhar said: “I and VVikramaditya Singh together wanted to do a construction project in 2010-11. Accordingly, my part contribution of Rs 2 crore was made to Vikram. Since the project did not take off, he returned the money through Maple. Where is the illegality?” He added: “Shri Virbhadraji is a very noble person and worthy of friendship…I am open for any investigation at any levels.”