The Reliance Group had last week said in a statement that its entire debt from the bank was fully secured. (Photo Credit: File Photo)
The ED has summoned top corporate honchos, including Essel Group promoter Subhash Chandra, Jet Airways founder Naresh Goyal and Indiabulls chairman Sameer Gehlaut, to appear before it for questioning this week in connection with its money laundering probe against Yes Bank promoter Rana Kapoor and others, officials said on Monday.
DHFL CMD Kapil Wadhawan, recently arrested by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) in another case and later released on bail, has also been called for questioning, apart from Reliance Group Chairman Anil Ambani who has been asked to depose on March 19 at the agency office at Ballard Estate in Mumbai, they said.
These businessmen represent the top five firms that have either taken loans or dealt in similar transactions with the crisis-hit Yes Bank and these accounts were either in the red or were stressed, the officials said.
These are allegations that require a thorough investigation, they added. The officials said Ambani, 60, was first called for questioning on Monday but he sought exemption from appearance on some personal grounds.
The agency took up the money laundering probe against Kapoor and others after the Reserve Bank imposed a moratorium on the crisis-ridden Yes Bank earlier this month, restricting withdrawals to Rs 50,000 per depositor.
The ED has accused Kapoor, his family members and others of laundering “proceeds of crime” worth Rs 4,300 crore by receiving alleged kickbacks in lieu of extending big loans through their bank that later allegedly turned non-performing asset (NPA).
The Reliance Group had last week said in a statement that its entire debt from the bank was fully secured and was availed in the ordinary course of business. “Reliance Group is committed to honouring repayments of all its borrowings from Yes Bank Ltd through its various asset monetisation programmes which are all at advanced stages,” the statement had said.
The group stated that it has “nil direct or indirect exposure to Rana Kapoor, former CEO of Yes Bank, or his wife or daughters, or any entities controlled by Rana Kapoor or his family”. Ambani’s nine group companies are stated to have taken loans of about Rs 12,800 crore from the bank.
The ED, officials said, wants to take the probe into the case forward and hence the questioning and recording of statements of these business heads under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) is essential. While Essel Group has an alleged unpaid loan of Rs 8,400 crore towards Yes Bank, DHFL (Dewan Housing Finance Limited) has an amount of about 3,700 crore.
"Essel Group has never made any transactions with Mr Rana Kapoor or his family or for that matter any private entities controlled by them," Subhash Chandra said in a tweet.
"I have been requested by ED to make a statement on the information which is already available with them. I will be more than happy to be personally present at their office, honouring their request, in order to extend all the required co-operation," Chandra tweeted. Jet Airways loan amount is stated to be about Rs 550 crore, they said.
The founder of the airlines, Goyal, is already being probed by the ED in another money laundering and foreign exchange violations case. The agency is also probing a similar case against Indiabulls and the mortgaging of a tony property in Delhi to its housing finance branch for a loan of Rs 685 crore as part of an alleged dubious deal.
Indiabulls Housing Finance Ltd (IHFL) on Sunday had said that the company as well as its promoters do not have any outstanding term loan from Yes Bank. Avantha Group promoter Gautam Thapar has also been summoned by the agency in connection with the case.
Present and past executives of the Yes Bank management have also been called by the investigating officer of the case during the week, they said. It has already grilled the bank’s former CEO Ravneet Gill a few days ago. A few other businessmen, whose companies had procured loans from the bank, will also be soon summoned, officials said.
Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman had told a press conference on March 6 that the Anil Ambani Group, Essel, ILFS, DHFL and Vodafone were among the stressed corporates Yes Bank had exposure to. Rana Kapoor, 62, was on Monday again sent to the ED custody till March 20 by a Mumbai court.
The banker, seen wearing a surgical mask, was taken for a medical checkup by ED officials before being production in the court. As many as 44 companies belonging to 10 large business groups reportedly accounted for bad loans of Rs 34,000 crore of Yes Bank. Other companies on the list include Dewan Housing Finance Corporation, Cox & Kings, and Bharat Infra.