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A rejoinder to a Skoch advertorial on GIFT City

D C Anjaria, a former independent director of GIFTCL says his public interest litigation (PIL) was not filed against the Gujarat state government, but against the firm and its' chairman among others

D C Anjaria, a former independent director of the Gujarat International Finance Tec-City Company Limited (GIFTCL), has denied various allegations made by the MD and Group CEO of GIFTCL, Ajay Pandey, in an advertorial published in Business Standard on August 13, 2018.

Contradicting what Pandey said in his interview in the advertorial, Anjaria has said that his public interest litigation (PIL) was not filed against the Gujarat state government, but against GIFTCL and its' chairman, Gujarat Urban Development Company Limited (GUDCL), Infrastructure Leasing & Financial Services Limited (IL&FS). Also, the PIL did not question any improper allotment of land by the State; it alleged the non-payment by IL&FS for both land and development rights to the state (and to a subsidiary), even after offering itself 25% discount in the development right price.

With regard to Pandey’s statements on GIFTCL’s decision to appoint Fairwood Holdings as a consultant, Anjaria has stated that contrary to the allegations, he was never part of the decision-making process for this contract. In a statement to Business Standard, Anjaria has stated that IL&FS awarded the contract to Fairwood in March 2007 and he joined the GIFTCL board only in June 2007.

In response to the claim that he was involved in the decision throughout, Anjaria has clarified that he was not involved in awarding or approving what he saw as a “non-performing” contract. “In November 2011, after three years of persistent efforts by me as the audit committee chairman and other government directors to get this consultant to perform and render the contracted services, I recommended through approved decisions at the audit committee meeting recovery of dues from Fairwood, and failing which, from IL&FS, which had appointed it,” Anjaria has stated. Within four days of that meeting, he was removed from the Audit Committee and all other committees, Anjaria has stated. In May 2012, Anjaria has said he was dropped from the board.

Anjaria has also responded to Pandey’s allegations on the reasons for filing the PIL and has said that the City MD and Group CEO avoided giving the sequence of events and put together unrelated events to wrongly claim that non-renewal of directorship, denial of executive directorship and personal compensation expectations were the motivations behind his court case.

He has stated that he made no request for help to IL&FS, contrary to Pandey’s claim. His training vehicle, the Indian Institute of Financial Services, existed since 1995 in Mumbai and was shifted by him to Ahmedabad as he began work on These developments happened in and after 2007, while the PIL was filed in 2015, he said.

With regard to Pandey’s allegation that the PIL was filed by Anjaria after his directorship and consultancy hopes were dashed, the former director of City has said that all decisions on him or his consulting vehicle’s involvement in the GIFT project were taken by the Gujarat government, its entities, GIFTCL chairman, IL&FS and only later by the GIFTCL board, when it was set up.

Moreover, Anjaria has said that IL&FS, acting independently, approached him to continue to offer consulting and implementation advisory support, for which again a contract was designed by it and signed by him. This contract, however, was dishonoured and just deactivated with consulting payments stopped midway. At around the same time, the audit committee questioning had started to happen, Anjaria has explained.

He has also stated that as he had been appointed a director and chairman of the audit committee, he was uncomfortable with the conflict of interest in view of the role for his consulting company while he was an independent director on the GIFTCL board.

“I persuaded the GIFTCL chairman and directors, to let me work as an executive director, instead of a non-executive one, and the board approved the arrangement, but this formal board decision was not implemented, as, by then, my audit committee observations were already disquieting for the joint venture partners, especially IL&FS,” Anjaria has added.

In response to the interviewer describing him as a detractor, Anjaria has stated that he was a conceptualiser of GIFT and its supporter.

First Published: Wed, September 05 2018. 22:23 IST