Reliance Group Chairman Anil Ambani on Thursday appeared before the Enforcement Directorate (ED) in Mumbai, in connection with a money laundering probe against YES Bank promoter Rana Kapoor and others, officials said.
The agency is expected to record the statement of Ambani under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA). The 60-year-old businessman arrived at the ED office in Ballard Estate around 9:30 am.
Ambani's nine group companies, that were reportedly under “stress”, are stated to have taken loans of about Rs 12,800 crore from the crisis-ridden bank.
On March 6, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman told a press conference that the Anil Ambani Group, Essel, ILFS, DHFL, and Vodafone were among the stressed corporates YES Bank had exposure to.
Ambani was first called for questioning on Monday, but he sought exemption from appearance on personal grounds. The ED then issued him fresh summons to appear on March 19.
The agency initiated action against Kapoor, his family and others soon after the Reserve Bank imposed a moratorium on YES Bank earlier this month, restricting withdrawals to Rs 50,000 per depositor. Normal banking operations for the bank customers restarted on Wednesday.
The ED has accused Kapoor, his family members and others of laundering “proceeds of crime” worth Rs 4,300 crore by receiving alleged kickbacks in lieu of extending big loans through their bank that later allegedly turned non-performing assets (NPAs).
The Reliance Group last week said its entire debt from the bank was fully secured and was availed in the ordinary course of business.
“Reliance Group is committed to honouring repayments of all its borrowings from YES Bank through its various asset monetisation programmes which are all at advanced stages,” it said in a statement.
The group said it has “nil direct or indirect exposure to Rana Kapoor, former CEO of YES Bank, or his wife or daughters, or any entities controlled by Rana Kapoor or his family”.
Meanwhile, a few other business heads called by ED for questioning skipped their dates.
Essel Group promoter Subhash Chandra and Jet Airways founder Naresh Goyal did not appear before the agency on Wednesday, stating that they were occupied with the ongoing Parliament session and tending to an ill family member, respectively.
Chandra is a Member of Parliament. When the news that he was summoned broke this week, Chandra had said he will cooperate. “Essel Group has never made any transactions with Mr Rana Kapoor or his family or for that matter any private entities controlled by them,” Chandra said through his official Twitter handle.
“I have been requested by ED to make a statement on the information which is already available with them. I will be more than happy to be personally present at their office, honouring their request, in order to extend all the required co-operation,” he tweeted.
Essel Group has an alleged unpaid loan of Rs 8,400 crore towards YES Bank, while Jet Airways’ loan amount is stated to be Rs 550 crore.
Indiabulls chairman Sameer Gehlaut has also sent a communication to the agency, stating he is abroad and not able to travel to India due to travel and airline restrictions in view of the COVID-19 threat.
He was asked to present himself on March 20.
Indiabulls is being probed for an instance of mortgaging of a costly property in Delhi to its housing finance branch for a loan of Rs 685 crore as part of an alleged dubious deal.
Indiabulls Housing Finance on Sunday said the company as well as its promoters do not have any outstanding term loan from YES Bank.
The Wadhawan brothers and promoters of the crisis-hit DHFL, Kapil and Dheeraj, have also cited the coronavirus travel restrictions to express their inability to join the probe. They even sought reasons from the agency why were they being summoned and said they can reply to ED questionnaires but refused to depose.
ED officials have said they want to take the probe into the case forward and hence the questioning and recording of statements of these business heads under the PMLA is essential.
As many as 44 companies belonging to 10 large business groups reportedly accounted for bad loans of Rs 34,000 crore of YES Bank. Other companies on the list include Dewan Housing Finance Corporation, Cox & Kings, and Bharat Infra.