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Wednesday, July 08, 2020

Explained: Sakshi Dhoni’s links with Amrapali, the company under investigation for fraud

On Tuesday, the Supreme Court cancelled the registration of the Amrapali Group under the Real Estate Regulatory Authority (RERA). The court also cancelled the lease granted to the company by Noida and Greater Noida authorities for its properties.

By: Explained Desk | New Delhi | Updated: July 25, 2019 10:33:56 pm

Sakshi Singh Dhoni, the wife of cricket superstar M S Dhoni, was a director and 25 per cent shareholder in company called Amrapali Mahi Developers Pvt Ltd (AMDPL). Chairman and Managing Director of the Amrapali Group, Anil Kumar Sharma, held the remaining 75 per cent stake in this company.

This was the situation until September 2014, as per available government records.

On Tuesday, the Supreme Court cancelled the registration of the Amrapali Group under the Real Estate Regulatory Authority (RERA). The court also cancelled the lease granted to the company by Noida and Greater Noida authorities for its properties.

The Supreme Court said there was “gross violation” by the company, which had diverted homebuyers’ money in violation of the Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA) and foreign direct investment (FDI) norms.

AMDPL, in which Sakshi Singh Dhoni had a stake, was among the 47 Amrapali Group companies that allegedly received the money of homebuyers, which was diverted by the real estate group to its subsidiaries, according to the findings of a forensic audit on the Group submitted to the Supreme Court.

M S Dhoni has maintained that he was only a brand ambassador of the Amrapali Group.

However, the filings made by the company with the Registrar of Companies, and the Supreme Court judgment, together point to a more complex relationship between the former India captain and the real estate firm.

Dhoni “disassociated” himself from the Amrapali Group in 2016.

In March this year, he approached the Supreme Court seeking its intervention to get Rs 40 crore from the Amrapali Group, which had used his services for branding and marketing over a six-year period until 2016.

According to the audit report submitted to the Supreme Court, Rs 5,619 crore belonging to ordinary homebuyers were diverted by the Amrapali Group.

The report listed AMDPL as one of the recipients, and said that “it received share capital in cash and all the expenses were paid in cash”.

AMDPL was incorporated in December 2011. However, filings with the Registrar of Companies do not reveal any operations, revenue, and profit for the three years FY’12, FY’13 and FY’14, for which data are 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.”

Anil Kumar Sharma, the founder of the Amrapali Group, which delivered its first project for 140 flats in 2003, became one of India’s leading real estate players after he capitalised on the real estate boom and expansion of the NCR in the early years of this century.

The Enforcement Directorate (ED) will now probe top officials of the company, including Sharma, for money laundering.

Earlier this year, the Delhi Police charged Sharma and two other directors of the company under IPC sections 406 (punishment for criminal breach of trust), 420 (cheating and dishonestly inducing delivery of property) and 120B (punishment of criminal conspiracy).

To provide relief to homebuyers, the Supreme Court has handed over all pending projects of the Group to the National Buildings Construction Corporation (NBCC).

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