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Continuing its crackdown on the embattled Amrapali Group, the Supreme Court on Wednesday ordered attachment and sale of the realty firm’s five-star hotel, cinema hall, malls and factories across India.
The top court also ordered attachment of four swanky corporate offices of Amrapali Group situated in Noida and Greater Noida, and asked the Debt Recovery Tribunal in Delhi to auction them. The top court gave a window to the firm’s directors and their family members to return home-buyers’ money, if they have it, by Dec. 10.
It asked the firm to explain by next week the diversion of around Rs 3,000 crore of home-buyers money for other purposes.
A bench of Justices Arun Mishra and UU Lalit issued notice to the Amrapali Group Chairman and Managing Director Anil Sharma and its directors, Chief Financial officer and statutory auditor Anil Mittal, asking them why a criminal case for breach of trust should not be lodged against them.
"You (Amrapali Group) are a worst kind of cheater in the world. You have cheated the home buyers all along and now you want to sell the facilities created for them. The facility area created for the home buyers is not a charity you have done to them." - Supreme Court Bench
The bench criticised the group after it was told that the real estate firm wants to sell a nursery school, an open space and a nursing home to raise funds.
It gave 24-hours to the Amrapali Group to hand over the raw data files of the business transactions of the company including the vouchers, receipt and the required authorisation for the 2015-18 period to the forensic auditors appointed by the court.
The bench pulled up the firm for repeated non- compliance with the court’s direction. “You are a perfect liar. You are a first degree liar. You have not given specific information what we have asked for in our earlier orders.,” the bench said. “We are not satisfied with your affidavit and you have only tried to manipulate the things. Despite our nine orders, you have not given specific information about business transactions for period 2015-18.”
It directed the DRT Delhi to auction all the attached properties including the hotel, malls, corporate offices, movie hall, factories and lands across India.
Among the properties the court directed to be attached and auctioned by DRT include:
- A five-star hotel Amrapali Holiday Inn Tech Park at Greater Noida
- An FMCG company called Amrapali Biotech and Mums situated in Rajgir and Buxar districts of Bihar
- Amrapali Mall in Gaya of Bihar
- Amrapali Mall at Muzaffarpur in Bihar
- Amrapali Mall at Bareilly in Uttar Pradesh
- Hitech City movie hall at Meerut in Uttar Pradesh
- Amrapali Precast factory at Greater Noida and
- Land assets in Bihar, Orissa, and a villa in Goa
The court also ordered attachment of fleet of luxury cars which were bought by the company from the home-buyers’ money. The court while perusing the affidavit of Amrapali Group pointed out that it has invested Rs 1,100 crore of home-buyers' money in purchasing the shares of a sister company.
"How can you do it. It was not promoters money, if they had put in the money with the company then it is understood. But how can the home-buyers’ money is used to purchase the shares. Give us all the details, who authorised to purchase the shares" - Supreme Court Bench
On being told that there were suspicion of ‘benami’ home buyers who have booked the flat at the paltry sum, the bench directed the forensic auditors to investigate the affairs of the company, to issue a notice owner of the flat and if no response is received then that property should be put on sale.
In a comprehensive affidavit placed before the apex court Anil Sharma has admitted diversion of Rs 2,996 crore to other group companies.
On Nov. 13, in a massive crackdown on Amrapali Group for “wilful disobedience” of its orders, the apex court had attached the company’s 100-bed multi-speciality hospital, bank accounts, the building which houses its office, certain firms and a “benami” villa in Goa. It had asked the CFO to deposit Rs 11.69 crore with its registry within three weeks. It also asked a statutory auditor Anil Mittal to pay Rs 47 lakh.
It restrained the realty firm from alienating its companies through which it had transactions and ordered attachment of such firms. The top court has also restrained Amrapali Group from creating any third party rights for 86 luxury cars and SUVs purchased from the company’s funds.
The apex court had earlier warned the Amrapali Group for its repeated non-compliance and “hoodwinking” of the court’s order saying that “writing is very clear on the wall”. It had also initiated contempt proceedings against Sharma and its directors for prima facie violating court’s order and thwarting the course of justice.
The court is seized of a batch of petitions filed by home buyers who are seeking possession of around 42,000 flats booked in projects of the Amrapali Group.
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