The Supreme Court has said that Amrapali Group entered into "sham agreements" with firms promoted by former India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni and his wife, Sakshi, to divert the money of homebuyers. The observation was made by the apex court on Tuesday when it passed an order cancelling registration of all companies of the bankrupt real estate firm.
The "arrangement" of Amrapali with Rhiti Sports Management Private Limited and Amrapali Mahi Developers Private Limited was unearthed during a forensic audit of Amrapali Group. It may be recalled that the SC had ordered the forensic audit of accounts of Amrapali Group in 2018.
According to audtiors, the Amrapali Group of Companies paid Rs 42.22 crore to Rhiti Sports Management Private Limited between 2009 and 2015. Of the total amount, Rs 6.52 crore was paid by Amrapali Sapphire Developers Private Limited.
"The audit showed that agreements made for "payment of amounts to Rhiti Sports Management Private Limited Company are sham agreements and made just for making payments to Rhiti Sports Management Private Limited. We feel that homebuyers money has been diverted illegally and wrongly to Rhiti Sports Management Private Limited and should be recovered from them as the said agreement in our opinion do not stand the test of law", SC judges Arun Mishra and UU Lalit said in their order.
The audit report also said that Amrapali Mahi Developers Pvt Ltd received share capital in cash and all expenses were paid in cash.
It is to be noted that Dhoni was once the brand ambassador of Amrapali Group and he had also signed contracts with other group companies. "We are informed verbally that this company (Amrapali Mahi) was incorporated for development of a project in Ranchi. An MoU was also entered between the parties though we were not provided a copy of that," the court said.
Amrapali Sapphire had also booked a flat in the name of Rhiti Sports in Uttar Pradesh's Noida. "However, Mr Sanjay Pandey of Rhiti Sports Management Pvt Ltd denied booking of any such flat. He also confirmed that neither the company nor any individual has any flat in Amrapli Group. Mr Pandey confirmed that no due diligence was carried out before accepting the brand endorsement, though he informed that brand value and paying capacity was seen. No agreement was provided though it was agreed that it would be provided by 11th March, 2019. Expenses were reimbursed to Rhiti Entertainment Private Limited a group company, without any agreement," the order said.
According to audit record, Rs 6.52 crore was paid to Rhiti Sports was on account of agreements executed by CMD Anil Kumar Sharma. "There is no resolution on record authorising Mr. Anil Kumar Sharma, CMD, to enter into an agreement on behalf of all Amrapali group of companies," the order said.
The audit report said as per the endorsement agreement signed on November 22, 2009, Dhoni was required to to make himself available to Amrapali Group chairman for three days along with one representative of Rhiti Sports but no record was found to confirm that he has complied with this condition.
Another sponsorship agreement, which was signed by Dhoni on March 20, 2015, said the Amrapali Group was given the right to advertise "Logo Space" at various places for Chennai Super Kings during Indian Premier League in 2015. "It is observed that this agreement is on plain paper and executed only between Amrapali and Rhiti Sports Management Private Limited and there are no signatories on behalf of Chennai Super Kings to this agreement. No resolution in favour of Shri Arun Pandey, signatory of Rhiti Sports Management Private Limited is attached with the said agreement," the SC said in its judgment.