Delhi court denies ‘default bail’ to Supertech chairman in money laundering case, ET RealEstate
Additional Sessions Judge Devender Kumar Jangala dismissed the application moved by Arora which argued he should be granted bail since the central probe agency had filed an ‘incomplete charge sheet’ against him.
The judge rejected the contention, observing that the ED had completed the investigation against Arora.
“It is clear from the above discussions that the prosecution on completion of investigation has filed the complaint against the accused persons named in the complaint including the applicant Ram Kishor Arora,” the judge said in an order passed on October 14.
Jangla noted that considering the sufficiency of material on record, the court had already taken the cognizance of commission of alleged offence in an order passed on September 26.
“The order passed by this court at the time of taking the cognizance itself implies that the investigation qua the accused persons mentioned in the complaint was complete. The cognizance has been taken considering the sufficiency of material on record. There can be no assumption from the perusal of material on record that the investigation … is incomplete,” the judge said.
He said that the accused moved an application, claiming that the ED had filed an “incomplete charge sheet just to defeat his statutory right to get default bail in case the probe agency fails to file a charge sheet within the statutorily period granted by the law to complete the investigation from the arrest of an accused.”
The charge sheet, also known as the final report, is filed on the completion of the investigation but the ED’s probe is still on in the present case, the application claimed.
ED’s Special Public Prosecutor N K Matta, along with advocate Mohd Faizan Khan, had opposed the application, claiming that even though the investigation in the case was still ongoing, the probe with regard to Arora was complete.
The prosecution complaint, ED’s equivalent to a charge sheet, had claimed that there was sufficient evidence to prosecute Arora for laundering money. Arora was arrested on June 27 under the criminal sections of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) after three rounds of questioning.
The money laundering case against the Supertech group, its directors and promoters, stems from a clutch of FIRs registered by police in Delhi, Haryana, and Uttar Pradesh.
The ED has been probing 26 FIRs registered by the Economic Offences Wing of Delhi, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh police against Supertech Ltd and its group companies for alleged criminal conspiracy, cheating, and criminal breach of trust and forgery. They have been accused of defrauding at least 670 home buyers of Rs 164 crore.
According to the charge sheet, the company and its directors hatched a “criminal conspiracy” to cheat people by collecting funds from prospective home buyers in advance against flats booked in their real estate projects.
The company did not adhere to the agreed obligation of providing possession of the flats in time and “defrauded” the general public, the agency said.
The ED claimed its probe revealed the funds were collected by Supertech Limited and other group companies from home buyers.
The company also took project-specific term loans from banks and financial institutions for the purpose of construction of housing projects, the ED said.
However, these funds were “misappropriated and diverted” for buying land in the name of other group companies which were pledged as collateral to borrow funds from banks and financial institutions, it added.
The Supertech group also defaulted on payments to the banks and financial institutions, in the process rendering around Rs 1,500 crore of such loans to become non-performing assets, the agency said.
Supertech Ltd, which was formed in 1988, has so far delivered around 80,000 apartments, mainly in the Delhi-NCR region. The company is currently developing around 25 projects across the National Capital Region (NCR). It is yet to give possession to more than 20,000 buyers.
The company has been plagued by a crisis since last August when its nearly 100-metre twin towers – Apex and Ceyane – located on the Noida Expressway were demolished following an order of the Supreme Court which found they were constructed within the Emerald Court premises in violation of norms.
More than 3,700 kgs of explosives were used to demolish the two towers. Arora had then said the company incurred a loss of about Rs 500 crore, including in construction and interest costs, because of the demolition.
The company suffered another blow in March last year when the Delhi bench of the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) ordered the initiation of insolvency proceedings against Supertech Ltd on a petition filed by the Union Bank of India for non-payment of dues of around Rs 432 crore.
The order was challenged by Supertech before the National Company Law Appellate Tribunal, or NCLAT.
In June last year, the NCLAT ordered the commencement of insolvency proceedings in only one of the housing projects of Supertech Ltd and not the entire company.
The NCLAT also directed the constitution of a Committee of Creditors for the firm’s Eco Village 2 project located in Greater Noida (West).
The company recently got permission from the Supreme Court to arrange around Rs 1,600 crore from institutional investors to complete 18 housing projects across Delhi-NCR being built under the main firm Supertech Ltd.
Apart from these 18, some other housing projects are being executed by different companies in the Supertech Group.