March 25, 2021 3:49:05 am
THE CBI has registered a fresh case of corruption against Dewan Housing and Finance Ltd (DHFL) and its directors Kapil and Dheeraj Wadhawan for allegedly defrauding the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana – the government’s housing scheme for the poor – of hundreds of crores of rupees by opening fake loan accounts and claiming government subsidy.
According to the CBI, a forensic report of auditor firm M/s Grant Thornton, which was appointed by the present board of DHFL, revealed that the firm’s promoters, the Wadhawan brothers, had opened a fictitious Bandra branch of DHFL. At this branch, fake housing loan accounts of such borrowers, who had repaid their housing loan earlier, were created in a data base.
In total, 2.60 lakh “fake and fictitious” home loan accounts were created in the non-existent Bandra branch between 2007 and 2019 for total loan amounting to Rs 14,046 crore, the report said. Out of this, Rs 11,755.79 crore were deposited or routed to several fictitious firms known as Bandra Book firms, according to the report.
“Source information revealed that several of above mentioned bogus accounts in non-existent Bandra branch of DHFL were opened under PMAY and interest subsidy as per norms of PMAY were claimed from National Housing Bank with connivance of officials [of the bank] and thus committed fraud on the government exchequer,” said the CBI FIR, which was registered on March 15.
Under the PMAY scheme, which was announced by the government in 2015, loans are granted to people from economically weaker sections and low- and middle-income groups to buy land and construct houses, or buy housing units, from private and public sector housing companies, through credit-linked interest subsidy.
The interest subsidy varies from 3 per cent per annum to 6.5 per cent per annum and the subsidy is payable upfront with a cap of Rs 2,30,156 to Rs 2,67,280, depending upon the category of the borrower. The maximum loan amount eligible under the scheme is Rs 24 lakh.
The subsidy amount is to be claimed by the financing institutions, which grant these loans, from the National Housing Bank. The Government of India reimburses the subsidy amount to the bank out of budgetary provisions in the Union Budget.
The DHFL is one such housing finance company, which granted loans under the PMAY, according to the CBI.
“DHFL, in an investors call with institutional investors/analysts of the company, itself claimed that till December 2018, it has processed 88,651 cases under PMAY scheme. It received Rs 539.40 crore interest subsidy and has to receive interest subsidy of Rs 1,347.80 crore, total Rs 1,887.20 crore from GOI [Government of India] on the loans disbursed by it under the PMAY scheme,” the CBI FIR said.
The DHFL is already being probed by the CBI in the Yes Bank case, and its promoters, the Wadhwan brothers, were arrested in connection with the case.
According to the CBI, between April and June 2018, Yes Bank invested Rs 3,700 crore in short term debentures of DHFL. Almost at the same time, Kapil Wadhawan “paid a kickback of Rs 600 crore” to Yes Bank promoter Rana Kapoor and his family members in the garb of builder loan given by DHFL to DOIT Urban Ventures – a company owned by the Kapoor family. The CBI has alleged that despite being a short-term debenture investment, DHFL has not redeemed Yes Bank’s investment till date.
The DHFL is alleged to have had siphoned off Rs 31,000 crore out of total bank loans of Rs 97,000 crore using a web of multiple shell companies.
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