Malvinder Singh, one of the brothers, is saying bulk of their missing cash - estimated at Rs 5481 crore - was loaned to their mentor, and a former CEO of the group, and the brother of the CEO.
New Delhi: In the power corridors of the Indian Capital, they are calling it the curious case of Good Cop, Bad Cop, except you need to know for yourself who is playing what.
Blood brothers Malvinder Singh and Shivinder Singh, who have been at each other’s throats for long, are now singing a different tune. Malvinder Singh, one of the brothers, is saying bulk of their missing cash - estimated at Rs 5481 crore - was loaned to their mentor, and a former CEO of the group, and the brother of the CEO.
And the Enforcement Directorate, Serious Fraud Investigation Office (SFIO) and Economic Offences Wing of Delhi Police must probe and find out the cash.
It is a herculean task because of the numerous flip-flops the brothers have gone through in the last year and half.
Let’s start with the latest twist in the tale. Malvinder Singh - Malav to his friends and family - has charged former Religare CEO Sunil Godhwani and his brother Sanjay, Gurinder Singh Dhillon, the head of the Radha Swami Satsang Beas, his sons Gurpreet Singh Dhillon and Gurkirat Singh Dhillon as the main beneficiaries of the fund transfer. Gurpreet Singh Dhillon is the CEO of Singapore-based Religare Health Trusts. Malvinder also suspects his brother Shivinder has cut a deal with those he has named in his complaint.
The charges have shocked many, including members of the Radha Swami Satsang Beas group which has over 4 million followers. Dhillon Sr is a cousin of the Singhs’ mother, and became a surrogate father to them after the death of their own in the late 1990s. Since then, the finances of Dhillon and the Singh brothers have grown intertwined. There have been many occasions when cash has flown from the Singh brothers to the Dhillon family via loans through shell companies.
But now, things have turned bad. Malvinder has alleged that Dhillon and his family members and some of his close associates (read Godhwanis) have decamped with the loans.
Dhillon, the spiritual guru, has agreed to record his statement to the investigators - it is clear he will deny the charge - and Sunil Godhwani, who is allegedly at the heart of the financial scandals which have engulfed Fortis Healthcare, says he had no control over movement of funds by the Singh brothers and their promoter-related entities for over two and a half years. In a rare interaction with BTVI, Godhwani further said the complaints against him and Dhillion were nothing but “diversionary tactics by the Singh brothers to avoid paying Rs 3500 crore to Daiichi Sankyo and that the brothers were very much in control of the missing cash”.
The Japanese drug maker, which won an arbitration in a court in Singapore, is pressing for payment and the Delhi High Court is supervising the payment process. Daiichi Sankyo has also alleged in the Delhi High Court that the Singh brothers, through a web of downstream companies, diverted close to Rs 2,900 crore. The Japanese drugmaker has also pushed the Supreme Court to put on hold in December the sale of Fortis Healthcare to IHH Healthcare Berhad, Asia’s largest private healthcare group, which had made an offer to invest Rs 4000 crore in the cash-strapped Fortis chain, outbidding a consortium of Manipal Health Enterprises and TPG Capital. The offer was unanimously accepted in July 2018.
In his charge note, Godhwani, claims Malvinder, did not return Rs 70 crore that was offered to him as loans. Godhwani, in his declarations before the investigators, has claimed the payment was “not loan but my salaries”. “This is their latest charge, all along they have been blaming each other for their woes."
Officers of ED, SFIO and EOW have been questioning Godhwani, who told BTVI that he is being framed by the Singh brothers and that he has already offered enough documentary evidences in his defence to the investigators. BTVI has learnt that the investigations will continue for long, ostensibly because the alleged funds diversion at Fortis Healthcare Ltd could add up to more than Rs 2,000 crore.
The Mint newspaper said trail of funds uncovered by the Serious Fraud Investigation Office (SFIO) indicates the diversion. Malvinder has charged Dhillion and his family members, Godhwani, and others for causing the loss. Worse, the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI), claimed the newspaper, also suspects the total size of the Fortis fraud could be much higher than the Rs 403 crore it originally estimated. For the records, the market regulator has ordered Fortis to recover Rs 500 crore from the Singh brothers for funds diverted to the promoter and promoter-related entities in December, 2018.What is important is that the Rs 5481 crore, claims Malvinder, is independent of the Rs 1,006.3 crore allegedly provided by Fortis and Religare Enterprises Ltd, another company controlled by the Singh brothers, to the six promoter-related entities. Now, these funds belonged to shareholders of Fortis and Religare, among others.
Malvinder claimed his brother Shivinder connived with Dhillon to sell these firms to RHC, thus putting more strain on the holding company. Shivinder, in turn, said it was Malvinder who fudged accounts and tampered with office records to steal cash from the company. Malvinder continued his tirade, saying Shivinder wanted to write off the loans as bad debts because he was offered the top seat of Radha Swami Satsang which has millions of followers. Shivinder, in his counter, says Malvinder is responsible for the missing cash.
“It is clear that Dhillon, in the garb of providing spiritual guidance, had gained complete trust and amassed wealth from the financial facilities extended to the Dhillon family. The true extent of the fraud has not come to light as the entities are tightly controlled by the accused and requires a thorough investigation," Malvinder Singh - claimed Mint - alleged in the complaint. What is surprising is that only late last year, the two brothers told a court in Delhi that they would resolve their differences at home in the presence of their mother and withdrew charges against each other.
The case is far from over, stuck in the middle is the Japanese drugmaker and its claim of Rs 3500 crore, and the sale of Fortis Healthcare chain.