NEW DELHI: The economic offences wing of the Delhi Police on Thursday arrested formerReligarepromoterShivinderMohan Singh and the company’s ex-CMD Sunil Godhwani for alleged default in repayment of dues and causing wrongful loss of Rs 2, 397 crore to Religare Finvest Ltd (RFL).
Late on Thursday night, Shivinder’s elder brother and Religare co-promoterMalvinder, also an accused in the case, was detained from Ludhiana.
Two former top executives of the company, Kavi Arora and Anil Saxena, were also arrested for their alleged involvement in the case. The police action against the brothers marks a stunning fall for one of the best-known business families in Delhi and the country.
Malvinder and Shivinder’s grandfather Bhai Mohan Singh had set upRanbaxy, which was the country’s largest pharma company, and the family also founded Fortis, which runs a chain of hospitals across India.
The brothers have been ousted from Religare and Fortis after they pledged their shares to raise money, but could not repay the loans, setting the stage for a rapid slide for the scions of the top business family.
The two brothers have been dogged by controversy since the sale of Ranbaxy to Japanese drug-makerDaiichiSankyo in deal worth Rs 17, 000 crore that was signed in 2008. Later, the Japanese firm filed an arbitration case in Singapore alleging that the Singh brothers had concealed facts and withheld crucial information about the health of the company before the sale. The US FDA had serious irregularities in Ranbaxy’s plants.
The brothers, heirs to Ranbaxy Laboratories Ltd, owed around $ 500 million to Daiichi Sankyo after a Singaporean court found them guilty of luring Japanese drug-maker to purchase Ranbaxy by withholding information.
Additional CP (EOW) O P Mishra said a case of cheating and fraud was registered last March on the basis of a complaint registered by RFL legal manager Manpreet Singh Suri. “The role of the accused persons in diverting public money was established during the investigation and they were arrested on the basis of the evidence we had collected,” Mishra alleged.
The brothers and top executives, including Godhwani, are also being probed by other agencies, including the Enforcement Directorate and the Serious Frauds Investigation Office (SFIO).
In the complaint, Suri had alleged that the accused had absolute control over the functioning of the Religare Enterprises and its subsidiaries, including RFL, during their tenure. “The accused had left the company in a poor financial condition by way of disbursing loans to companies having no financial standing that were controlled by them,” according to the complaint.
These companies are accused of wilfully defaulting in repayments and wrongful loss to RFL worth Rs 2, 397 crore. The default was also pointed out during the independent audit carried out by the RBI and market regulator Sebi.
Police said that Shivinder was the promoter of Religare Enterprise, which had 85% in RFL. Godhwani was the chairman and managing director, while the other two accused held senior managerial positions. The relationship between the Singh brothers had soured after allegations of fund diversion from the healthcare chain emerged. Ties with Godhwani and the brothers were also strained.
In August, the Enforcement Directorate (ED) had also searched residences of former Ranbaxy chief executive officer (CEO) Malvinder and his brother Shivinder in Delhi in connection with a money laundering case.
Earlier in February, Malvinder had filed a criminal complaint against his brother Shivinder alleging that he had diverted Rs 740 crores from RFL without informing him about the transaction. The EOW had then detained Godhwani from the airport in May this year for questioning in this case while he was on his way to London.
Last year, the two feuding brothers came to blows over a business deal, widening the gulf between the two siblings.