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Thursday, September 23, 2021

SFIO searches premises of Videocon Group cos

Sources said at least 80 officers from the Registrar of Companies (RoC) were also roped in to conduct the searches. The SFIO also searched the home of Videocon promoter Venugopal Dhoot.

Written by Khushboo Narayan | Mumbai |
Updated: July 31, 2021 9:11:39 am
On June 8, the NCLT approved a resolution plan submitted by Twinstar Technologies, a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Vedanta Group.

Following the government order, the Serious Fraud Investigation Office (SFIO) conducted a three-day search operation at premises connected to the Videocon Group in at least five cities including Delhi, Gurugram, Mumbai, Aurangabad and Ahmednagar between July 13 and July 15.

The government has ordered an SFIO probe into the Videocon Group following the observations made by the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) in its June 8 order while approving a resolution plan for the 13 firms of the group where the banks took a haircut of 95.85 per cent from their total claims of Rs 62,000 crore.

Sources said at least 80 officers from the Registrar of Companies (RoC) office were also roped in to conduct the searches. The SFIO also searched the home of Videocon promoter Venugopal Dhoot.

According to sources familiar with the search operation, the SFIO seized digital data, books of accounts and servers of the companies of the group. The agency has also searched the resolution professional (RP) appointed for the insolvency process of Videocon Industries Ltd and 12 other group firms.

The NCLT, in its June order, had raised concerns over the confidentiality of the liquidation value of the assets of the Videocon Group companies during the insolvency process as the winning bid of Rs 2,962 crore of Twin Star Technologies, a Vedanta Group company, was remarkably close to the companies’ liquidation value of Rs 2,568 crore, which is required to be kept confidential. The tribunal even asked the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Board of India (IBBI) to “ensure the confidentiality clause is followed”. The NCLT had also said that the winning bid of Rs 2,962 crore by Twin Star was “almost nothing”.

The NCLT order said, “Out of total claim amount of Rs 71,433.75 crore, claims admitted are for Rs 64,838.63 crore and the plan is approved for an amount of only Rs 2,962.02 crore which is only 4.15 per cent of the total outstanding claim amount and the total haircut to all the creditors is 95.85 per cent.”

Videocon Industries was part of a list of 26 large defaulters referred to the NCLT by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) in the second set of companies referred for insolvency proceedings by the banking regulator.

Earlier this week, the National Company Law Appellate Tribunal (NCLAT) stayed the implementation of the resolution plan approved by the NCLT and said the companies will be managed by the RP till the NCLAT hears the matter again on September 7. This was in response to an appeal filed by some creditors of the company who are unhappy with the current contours of the resolution deal.

Meanwhile, the Enforcement Directorate (ED) too has initiated a money laundering probe against Videocon Group for an alleged loan fraud in the sale of an oilfield in the African nation of Mozambique.

The ED case is based on a CBI FIR registered last year against Dhoot, who has been accused of duping a consortium of banks led by the State of Bank of India (SBI) of hundreds of millions of dollars. The case pertains to an oil block in Mozambique, where Videocon had interests and picked up a loan from Standard Chartered Bank (SCB) in London.

This loan was repaid by the bank consortium led by SBI against the Mozambique assets, but the consortium did not take charge of the assets and Videocon continued to avail of credit facility from SCB on the block. The block was finally sold to ONGC Videsh Ltd and Oil India Ltd in 2014 for $2,519 million.

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