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Lenders serve legal notices on Winsome Diamonds

Notices sent by at least three public sector banks for recovery of loans

Dilip Kumar Jha  |  Mumbai 

Public sector lenders, including Punjab National Bank (PNB) and Central Bank, have served legal notices on Winsome Diamonds to recover loans. A senior official from one of the lenders to the company confirmed legal proceedings had been initiated for the recovery of loans and added serving a legal notice was the first step in that regard.

"Yes. We have received legal notices from banks," said a senior Winsome Diamonds official.

In November 2013, banks had served notices on Winsome Diamonds and its sister concern Forever Precious Jewellery with the intention that the two be declared "wilful defaulters", following which an inquiry by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) could be initiated. The Reserve Bank of India defines a wilful defaulter as a borrower that is able but unwilling to pay, and has diverted loan proceeds towards ends other than the initially stated use or has overstated profits to secure a loan.

So far, bank officials and investors haven't been able to contact Jatin Mehta, the company's promoter. When contacted, Ramesh Parikh, the company's director, said, "As the matter is sub judice, we will not be able to comment."

It is learnt the company has received notices from at least three public sector banks. "It is a concerted effort and, therefore, all 15 lenders must have sent legal notices to Winsome Diamonds," said the company official quoted earlier.

In March 2013, Winsome Diamonds' foreign clients had failed to pay their dues. Following this, foreign banks encashed the letters of credit given by Indian banks, which now have bad loans of Rs 3,800 crore on this account. Forever Precious Jewellery has defaulted to the tune of Rs 1,700 crore.

Foreign clients who owe more than $870 million to Winsome Diamonds and about $370 million to Forever Precious have promised all steps possible to repay the dues.

At a board meeting of the company on January 10, there was a consensus that to the extent possible, media queries would be replied to only after being referred to the company's board.

Sources said in Singapore, Jatin Mehta had set up one of the largest lab-grown diamond (LGD or synthetic diamond) facilities in the world. He had also acquireda majority stake in Genesis, a US-based synthetic diamonds company.

"Mehta's sons are associated with a company engaged in the manufacture of lab-grown diamonds. We do not have any information on the level of activity or the countries where LGDs are exported by this company," said a company official.

First Published: Tue, January 14 2014. 22:33 IST