A controversial loan granted by Tata Realty & Infrastructure (TRIL) to Unitech has landed in the Bombay High Court with the Tatas suing the Delhi-based real estate company after it defaulted on its repayments.
Tata Realty had lent close to Rs 1,700 crore to Unitech in 2007 for investment in a large track of non-agricultural land in Gurgaon. In 2008, the transaction was re-negotiated for a smaller size of land and Unitech refunded Rs 1,008 crore back to TRIL and sold land worth Rs 602 crore. However, due to a slowdown in the real estate sector, coupled with its own liquidity issues, Unitech was unable to return the balance amount of Rs 90 crore.
The loan by TRIL to Unitech made headlines as the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and the Serious Fraud Investigation Office alleged the Tata loan was used by the Delhi company to acquire spectrum, which was later sold off to Telenor of Norway at a hefty profit. Soon after the sale to Telenor, Unitech has returned the money to TRIL.
When contacted, a TRIL spokesperson said the company has filed a suit against Unitech for recovery of an outstanding amount of Rs 7 crore. A mail sent to Unitech did not elicit any response. But a source said Unitech had sold land to Tata Realty in Gurgaon, which was adjusted against the loan and advances given by TRIL in 2007 apart from returning around Rs 1,000 crore. The suit was filed in May this year by the Tatas and the matter will be heard by the high court in July.
In January this year, the CBI also closed the investigation against the Tatas on grounds that the Supreme Court had not sought any probe on the transaction.
TRIL is the unlisted subsidiary of the Tata group holding firm, Tata Sons, and is investing in a string of real estate and infrastructure projects across the country. The company's loan to Unitech also finds a mention in the infamous Niira Radia tapes, in which her intercepted conversations with former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee's foster son-in-law Ranjan Bhattacharya relate to Unitech failing to clear its dues to the Tatas worth almost Rs 250 crore.
On February 25, 2011, the CBI called several top officials of TRIL including R Krishna Kumar, chairman of TRIL along with CEO Sanjay Ubale, on why the loan was granted to Unitech just before the then telecom minister A Raja sold spectrum on the first-come-first-served basis. Later, all the licences granted by Raja to Unitech and others were cancelled by the Supreme Court.
Sanjay Chandra, one of Unitech's promoters who was arrested by the CBI, is now facing a trial in the CBI court in Delhi along with other accused in the 2G scam case. Besides, a Rs 250-crore investment by Unitech's Dutch subsidiary in Pluri, a Mauritius-based company, and its loss within a year is also under investigation by the Enforcement Directorate (ED). The fate of the probe by ED is not known.
March 2007: TRIL gives Rs 1,700 cr loan to Unitech
October 2007: Unitech acquires nationwide spectrum for subsidiary, Uninor
October 2008: Unitech sells 67% stake in Uninor to Telenor for Rs 6,120 cr
2008: Unitech refunds Rs 1,008 cr to Tata Realty, sells land worth Rs 602 cr
February 2011: CBI questions TRIL officials on Unitech loan
January 2015: CBI closes case against TRIL as it fails to get evidence
- May 2015: TRIL sues Unitech in Bombay HC following a default