Even as M S Dhoni has maintained that he was merely a brand ambassador of the Amrapali Group, filings made by the Delhi-based real estate company with the Registrar of Companies, when viewed alongside Tuesday’s Supreme Court judgment, point to a more complex relationship between the former India captain and the beleaguered company now indicted for fraud.
Dhoni’s wife Sakshi Singh Dhoni was a director and a 25 per cent shareholder in a group company called Amrapali Mahi Developers Pvt Ltd (AMDPL), where Amrapali Group CMD Anil Kumar Sharma held the remaining 75 per cent stake (till September 2014, as per records available).
AMDPL, according to the findings of a forensic audit on the Amrapali Group submitted to the Supreme Court, was revealed to be among the 47 Amrapali group companies that allegedly received homebuyers’ fund diverted by the real estate group to its subsidiaries.
The audit report alleged that homebuyers’ funds amounting to Rs 5,619 crore were diverted by Amrapali Group to these companies. The report that listed AMDPL as one of the recipients of the homebuyers’ funds, stated that “it received share capital in cash and all the expenses were paid in cash”.
While the company was incorporated in December 2011, RoC filings of AMDPL do not reveal any operations, revenue and profit for the three years FY’12, FY’13 and FY’14, for which data is available.
The audit report said, “We are informed verbally that this company was incorporated for development of a project in Ranchi. An MoU was also entered between the parties though we were not provided a copy of that.”
Faced with homebuyers’ ire, Dhoni “disassociated” himself with the Amrapali group in 2016. Three years down the line, the cricketer approached the Supreme Court in March this year seeking its intervention to get Rs 40 crore from the Amrapali group for using his services for branding and marketing activities for six years until 2016.
Taking note of the audit findings, the Supreme Court had indicted the firm Tuesday: “In view of the finding recorded by the Forensic Auditors and fraud unearthed, indicating prima facie violation of the FEMA and other fraudulent activities, money laundering, we direct Enforcement Directorate and concerned authorities to investigate and fix liability on persons responsible for such violation and submit the progress report in the Court and let the police also submit the report of the investigation made by them so far.”
The auditors noted that another Amrapali Group company, Amrapali Sapphire Developers Private Limited, paid “a sum of Rs 6.52 crore out of the total amount of Rs 42.22 crore paid from the Amrapali group of Companies to Rhiti Sports Management Private Limited during the years 2009 – 2015.” While Rhiti Sports is a company that manages Dhoni’s sponsorships and endorsements, the audit report said that Amrapali Group and Rhiti Sports Management made agreements on “plain paper (which were) executed only between Amrapali and Rhiti Sports Management Private Limited.”
Pointing out that there was no resolution attached in favour of Arun Pandey, Signatory of Rhiti Sports Management Private Limited, the audit report said, “This clearly shows that these Agreements have just been made for payment of amounts to Rhiti Sports Management Private Limited Company..(and) are sham agreements…We feel that Home Buyers money has been diverted illegally and wrongly to Rhiti Sports Management Private Limited and should be recovered from them as the said Agreement in our opinion do not stand the test of Law.”
While Rhiti Group did not respond on a specific query on Sakshi Dhoni’s shareholding in AMDPL and the company being a recipient of diverted homebuyers’ funds, it said: “We would only like to clarify that the observations mentioned in forensic report (only) are bereft of proper information or relevant documents.The question of siphoning funds does not arise because Rhiti provided all professional services as per the agreements and the then pre-agreed endorsement fee received from Amrapali was paid to relevant endorsing stars and celebrities.. In fact, we have legitimate business claims of approximately Rs 40 crore against Amrapali group and towards the recovery of the same.”
Stating that Rhiti was cooperative during the forensic audit and furnished all sought information/documents, it said that Rhiti was “neither asked to provide any further documents or information nor the issues raised in the report like authority of Mr Anil Sharma (CMD, Amrapali) or authorized signatory of Rhiti were ever raised to us to enable us to satisfy the said auditors.”
Rhiti, in response to queries sent by The Indian Express, also said that it is “currently seeking legal advice and would accordingly take further steps, if so advised.”