The Enforcement Directorate (ED) on Friday attached Rs.122 crore worth assets of debt sunken and bank loan frauds facing Deccan Chronicle newspaper Group and its promoters T Venkatram Reddy and T Vinayakravi Reddy. The Deccan Chronicle Group is also publishing other newspapers like Asian Age & Andhra Bhoomi. The Reddy’s controlled group was under the patronage by Congress leader and former Union Minister T Subbarami Reddy. Now ED has attached a total of more than Rs.265 crore worth of assets of this tainted Group. This value is based on circle rates and the market value of these assets is expected to be more than Rs.600 crores.
The promoters are his nephews and during the Congress regime, Banks were forced to give huge loans to this Group, lead to a debt of more than Rs.8000 crore. ED also said that this Group was enjoying a credit facility of more than Rs.15,000 crores. The majority of these loans were given during the tenure of Finance Minister P Chidambaram.
Investigations under PMLA were initiated by ED against M/s DCHL and its management in the year 2015, based on 6 FIRs and corresponding charge sheets filed by CBI and BS&FC Bangalore.
“Enforcement Directorate (ED) has provisionally attached immovable assets totaling to Rs. 122.15 Crore under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act, 2002 (PMLA) in a loan fraud case. The attached assets belong to M/s Deccan Chronicle Holdings Limited (DCHL) and two of its former promoters namely T Venkatram Reddy and T Vinayakravi Reddy and that of a benami company floated by them. The immovable assets are consisting of 14 properties located in New Delhi, Hyderabad, Gurgaon, Chennai, Bangalore, etc. All these attached assets are not covered under the NCLT process. This is the second attachment in this case. After this attachment in addition to the earlier attachment, the total amount of assets attached so far comes to Rs 264.56 crore.
“Investigations under PMLA were initiated by ED against M/s DCHL and its management in the year 2015, based on 6 FIRs and corresponding charge sheets filed by CBI and BS&FC Bangalore. Another charge sheet has been filed by CCS Police and prosecution has also been filed by SEBI against M/s DCHL. The total loan fraud committed by M/s DCHL and its promoters is estimated to be Rs. 8180 Crore. M/s DCHL is currently under the CIRP process in which a resolution plan for only Rs 400 Crore has been approved by the NCLT,” said ED in a statement.
The Reddy’s landed in troubles when Banks started asking to pay back. It is learned that lot of money was plundered in buying a private jet and dealing in their cricket IPL club Deccan Chargers, which later sold to Maran Group. The DCHL was also sold on auction through tribunal to SREI Group for around Rs.450 crore and the deal is now facing disputes in the appellate forum.
The ED said that investigation conducted under PMLA revealed that the three promoters of DCHL namely P K Iyer, T Venkatram Reddy, and T Vinayakravi Reddy hatched a well-planned conspiracy and manipulated the balance sheets of the company inflating the profits-advertisement revenue and grossly understated the financial liabilities of the company to paint a rosy picture for years to cheat the Banks and its shareholders. Balance sheets of the company were fudged and loans taken from one Bank were hidden from other financial institutions. Over the years, M/s DCHL availed credit facilities to the tune of more than Rs.15,000 crore.
Apart from the banking frauds case, the Reddy brothers were also caught by Delhi Police for murder attempts on one of the whistleblower officers.
“Money trail investigation revealed that most of the loans were cyclically rotated into group companies and were diverted to pay back older loans. Loans taken for working capital requirements and for business needs of M/s DCHL were diverted to extravagant projects and the diverted funds which were invested into new projects without the consent of the Banks and were ultimately shown as losses. Substantial amounts out of the loans were diverted into subsidiaries which have not done any legitimate business and also into the proprietary concerns of the two ex-promoters without any proper accounting. It is also revealed that the accused promoters received hefty kickbacks from the investment made by M/s DCHL into M/s Odyssey at highly inflated values. The promoters ran the public listed company M/s DCHL like their proprietary fiefdom throwing all norms of corporate governance to the wind. There were many suspicious donations to various Trusts.
“ED investigation under PMLA has also revealed that despite the initiation of the CIRP process, the accused promoters of M/s DCHL & their close family members continue to yield indirect control over the print media and are working in senior capacities drawing large monthly salaries. ED has seized high-end vehicles that were registered in the name of M/s DCHL from their possession. The promoters were also found to be re-purchasing the mortgaged assets at discounted rates through private treaties by using concealed proceeds of crime through a front company. The net amount of loss caused to the banks/ NBFCs/ Financial Institutions has estimated at Rs.8180 crores including the unpaid principal loan amount of approximately Rs.3000 crore. So far assets totaling to Rs.264.56 crores have been identified and provisionally attached under PMLA. Further investigation, in this case, is under progress,” said ED in a detailed statement.
Apart from the banking frauds case, the Reddy brothers were also caught by Delhi Police for murder attempts on one of the whistleblower officers. DCHL also operates Odyssey chain of shops.