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Wednesday, February 8, 2012

FIR vs Kotak Mahindra, directors stands

The Supreme Court has refused to quash an FIR against Kotak Mahindra Bank and its nine top executives in a case relating to alleged criminal conspiracy to cheat a liquor manufacturer on the pretext of settling debts.

However, the apex court also said "no coercive measures" will be taken against the executives till eight weeks' time during which they can seek bail from the concerned court.

The FIR was lodged in Raisen district of Madhya Pradesh against the Kotak Mahindra Bank and its directors-- Anand Mahindra, Pradeep Kotak, Cyril Shroff, Shivaji Dam and Asim Ghosh-- and C Jayaram and Dipak Brijmohandas Gupta, Executive Directors, Shankar Nath Acharya, part-time Chairman and Uday Suresh Kotak, Executive Vice-President and MD.

A bench of Justice B S Chauhan and J S Khehar rejected the petition filed by the bank and its top bosses challenging a Madhya Pradesh High Court judgement which had upheld the order of a trial court directing lodging of the FIR.

"We are not inclined to entertain the special leave petitions. The petitions are dismissed accordingly," the bench said in its order passed on February 6.

"However, the petitioners are protected for a period of eight weeks and thus no coercive measures be taken against any of them. They may apply for bail. They are also at liberty toagitate all factual and legal issues before the court concerned at the time of framing of the charges," it said.

"The court below shall consider the case on merit without being influenced by any observations made by the High Court.

It is also made clear that we have also not expressed any opinion on merits of the cases," it added.

The bank and its executives are accused of cheating Som Distilleries and Brewries, a Bombay Stock Exchange listed company, by entering into an agreement to negotiate debts of the liqour manufacturing company with nationalised banks against one-time settlement amount but later buying the same debts and charging high penal interest for the same.

Som Group had alleged that Kotak Mahindra, as their agent, was required to get one-time settlement negotiations with the Bank of Baroda and Bank of India.

According to the the brewery firm, it was to pay 14 percent interest on the one-time settlement amount but after negotiations with the bank, Kotak purchashed the same debts from two nationalised banks and imposed a penal interest up to 33.5 per cent on the amount.

It contended purchase of debts, a non-peforming asset, amounts to an act of securitisation which is not permitted without registration for the same with the Reserve Bank of India and thus Kotak bank flouted the Securitisation and Reconstruction of Financial Assets and Enforcement of Security Interest Act (SARFAESI), 2002.

The brewery firm alleged the bank, in order to show default in payment of money, kept its post-dated cheques pending for a few months and then deposited several cheques on one day resulting in their dishonouring.

Source: Financial Express


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