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QBiz: Rs 800 Cr Rotomac ‘Fraud’; PNB Scam May Cost Banks Rs 20K Cr

1. Mumbai May Get World’s First Operational Hyperloop

Travelers between Mumbai and Pune may soon get rid of their traffic worries, as British business tycoon Richard Branson plans to develop the world’s first operational hyperloop on the route by 2025.

Branson’s investee company Virgin Hyperloop One has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Maharashtra government to develop and construct a Hyperloop between Mumbai and Pune, reducing the travel time to cover the 140-km distance between Mumbai and Pune to 14-25 minutes, from 3-4 hours at present.

India may be the first country to have an operational Hyperloop, he said in an interaction with a select group of journalists on the sidelines of Magnetic Maharashtra Global Business Summit in Mumbai.

(Source: BloombergQuint)

2. Rotomac Pen's Rs 800 Crore Defaulter Flees Country

After billionaire diamantaire Nirav Modi, another defaulter Vikram Kothari, the promoter of Rotomac Pen, has also allegedly gone abroad after swindling Rs 800 crore from various public sector banks including Allahabad Bank, Bank of India and Union Bank of India, sources said.

The Kanpur-based company's owner had taken a loan of more than Rs 800 crore from over five state-owned banks.

Allahabad Bank, Bank of India, Bank of Baroda, Indian Overseas Bank and Union Bank of India compromised their rules to sanction loans to Rotomac, the sources said.

(Source: PTI)

3. PNB Fraud Could Make Business Tougher For Less Established Firms

Availing short-term overseas credit could become more difficult for less established firms, with India’s biggest banking fraud at the Punjab National Bank involving diamond czar Nirav Modi triggering a spell of self-introspection — and process strengthening — among local lenders.

From the strongest lenders such as State Bank of India, ICICI Bank, Bank of Baroda, and Axis Bank, to the less robust and geographically more constrained lenders such as Central Bank of India and United Bank of India, banking managements have begun examining their systems and processes with urgency and are beginning to plug the gaps.

Also, banks are raising the cost of overseas trade financing instruments.

(Source: Economic Times)

4. Indian Banks May Take A Hit of Rs 20,000 Crore from PNB Fraud: Tax Dept

Indian banks could take a hit of more than $3 billion (more than Rs 19,000 crore) from loans and corporate guarantees provided to diamond companies at the centre of a massive alleged fraud at the state-run Punjab National Bank, the tax department has estimated.

As of March 2017, banks had extended loans and guarantees worth Rs 17,632 crore($2.74 billion) to companies tied to billionaire jeweller Nirav Modi and his uncle Mehul Choksi, the tax department said in a note seen by Reuters.

Since then, the loans and guarantees would have increased over the past year and the total “hit” to Indian banks “may well exceed” $3 billion, according to an internal note prepared by the tax authority on its preliminary investigation into India’s biggest bank fraud case.

(Source: Reuters)

5. Fortis, Religare Face Serious Fraud Probe

The government has ordered a Serious Fraud Investigation Office (SFIO) probe against Fortis Healthcare and Religare Enterprises, which are at the centre of a controversy involving accusations of misconduct against their promoters Malvinder and Shivinder Singh.

Separately, Fortis on Saturday said the Securities and Exchange Board of India had ordered an inquiry against it and had asked it to furnish information and documents.

The Singh brothers had recently quit the boards of the two companies. The move came days after the Delhi high court ruled that the Rs 3,500 crore arbitration award that Daiichi Sankyo won against the billionaire brothers for concealing facts about erstwhile Ranbaxy Laboratories was enforceable in India.

(Source: The Times of India)

6. GST Rules Set to be Simplified Further

Federal indirect tax body Goods and Services Tax (GST) Council is set to revamp the return filing process and further liberalise rules to make compliance easier for taxpayers and boost government revenues.

A meeting of central and state government officials in the capital on 27 February will give final shape to the proposal before the council takes it up on 1 March for approval, a person familiar with the development said on condition of anonymity.

It is also expected to do away with the requirement of filing tax returns relating to purchases and a comprehensive return on all transactions. It will instead, retain only the summary return to be filed every month (GST return 3 B), the information on which will be complemented by invoices of sales uploaded.

(Source: Livemint)

7. Eight Public Sector Firms Likely To Hit Capital Markets Next Financial Year

As many as eight public sector companies, including Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd and RITES Ltd, will hit the capital markets next financial year as the government intends to unlock the real value of these firms and bring in greater accountability.

Department of Investment and Public Asset Management Secretary Neeraj Gupta said these initial public offerings will be done in a “staggered manner” depending upon the size of the issuance.

Besides, four PSUs — RITES, Indian Renewable Energy Development Agency Ltd. (IREDA), Bharat Dynamics Ltd. and Mishra Dhatu Nigam Ltd. (MIDHANI) — have filed their draft papers with SEBI and are awaiting its go-ahead to launch public issue.

(Source: PTI)

8. Govt to Put Up Tender For 10,000 Electric Vehicle Purchase

State-run Energy Efficiency Services Ltd (EESL) will soon float another global tender for 10,000 electric vehicles to be deployed across the country for government use, a senior executive has said.

EESL will also sign a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the government of Andhra Pradesh this week to supply 10,000 electric vehicles.

“There is interest in our electric vehicle programme from virtually all parts of the country, and it’s because we have been able to provide a value proposition like no other,” Saurabh Kumar, managing director at EESL, told ET.

(Source: Economic Times)

9. Private Indian Refiners Likely to Get Stake in Crude Oil Reserves

The government is planning to take private Indian refiners as partners for the next phase of building strategic crude oil reserves.

The project, estimated to cost Rs 100 billion, is likely to be done on a public-private partnership mode. Private refiners Reliance Industries and Essar might join hands with the government to build and run these reserves.

According to a person close to the development, Cabinet clearance would be required to take private refiners as partners. Indian Strategic Petroleum Reserves (ISPRL), that runs these underground caverns, has already received interest from some of these companies.

“Such storage capacities will help private players to minimise the risk of volatility in international crude prices. There could also be swapping of crude oil by private companies, if required,” an industry official told Business Standard.

(Source: Business Standard)

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