Fugitive diamantaire Mehul Choksi’s company Gitanjali Gems has topped the list of wilful defaulters released by the Reserve Bank of India, with Rs 5,492 crore. Choksi’s other firms Gili India and Nakshatra Brands also have loans of Rs 1,447 and Rs 1,109 crore respectively written off.
The Jhunjhunwala brothers, and Vijay Mallya are among the prominent individuals linked to companies named by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) in a list of the top 50 wilful defaulters accused of scamming the country’s banks.
In a Right to Information or RTI response to activist Saket Gokhale released on Tuesday, the RBI said that outstanding loans amounting to Rs 68,607 crore taken out by the 50 firms have been written off till September 30, 2019.
Choksi’s company Gitanjali Gems is followed by REI Agro with ₹4,314 crore and Winsome Diamonds with ₹4,076 crore.
Rotomac Global Private Limited has funded advances of ₹2,850 crore which have been technically written off and Kudos Chemie Ltd with ₹2,326 crore, Ruchi Soya Industries Limited, now owned by Ramdev’s Patanjali, with ₹2,212 crore and Zoom Developers Pvt Ltd with ₹2,012 crore being the other companies.
REI Agro of Jhunjhunwala brothers is already under the scanner of ED. The CBI and ED are also probing alleged fraud by the owners of Winsome Diamonds.
Vikram Kothari’s Rotomac is the fourth in the list. He and his son Rahul Kothari were arrested by the CBI for bank loan default.
Mallya’s Kingfisher Airlines figures in the list at number 9, with outstanding amount of ₹1,943 crore which have been technically written off by the banks.
Forever Precious Jewellery and Diamonds Private Limited has loans of ₹1,962 crore written off while Deccan Chronicle Holdings Limited have ₹1915 crore written off loans.
In the last Parliament session, Rahul Gandhi had asked the government to provide a list of top 50 bank loans defaulters in the country, leading to sharp exchanges and uproar in the Lok Sabha.
“The information on top 50 wilful defaulters and their sum of funded amount outstanding and amount technically/prudentially written off as on September 30, 2019 reported in CRILC by banks, is provided,” the RBI said in its written response dated April 24.
In his application, RTI activist Saket Gokhale had sought the list of defaulters as on February 16, but the RBI said the requested information is not available.
The RBI said that according to section 8 (1)(a) of RTI Act 2005 read with para 77 of Supreme Court judgement of December 16, 2015 in Jayantilal N Mistry case, information on overseas borrowers is exempted from public disclosure.
“Data is as reported by banks and RBI will not be held responsibly or accountable for any misreporting and/or incorrect reporting by the reporting entities,” the RBI said in the written reply to the RTI query.
Following the disclosure, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi launched a scathing attack on the BJP-led Central government.
“I asked a simple question in parliament – tell me the names of 50 biggest bank scammers. Finance Minister refused to reply. Now RBI has put names of Nirav Modi, Mehul Choksi and other BJP friends in the list. This is why they hid the truth from parliament,” he said in a tweet on Tuesday.
After the RTI response surfaced, Congress chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala released the list of the top loan defaulters in the country and demanded answers from the Prime Minister Narendra Modi on why their loans were waived.
(With agency inputs)