New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Wednesday asked Attorney General R. Venkataramani to ensure personal safety of a journalist, who was threatened while covering money laundering involving Amtek Auto Ltd, and his family.
Advocate Jai Anant Dehadrai, representing the petitioner, submitted a sealed cover document to a bench headed by Chief Justice U.U. Lalit. Dehadrai said the document was in connection with the journalist who was covering a case, which allegedly involved thousands of crores of money laundering by Amtek Auto Ltd. He added that the journalist was being stalked, and has also received threats in connection with the matter.
On September 5 this year, the Supreme Court issued notice on a plea claiming glaring inaction by central agencies – the CBI, the ED, and the SFIO — into the alleged criminal theft and money laundering of the Rs 12,800 crore from over 27 public, government and listed banks by Amtek Auto Ltd (AAL) and its promoters, directors, beneficiaries, and key managerial personnel through an elaborate system of over 127 related parties and several benaamidars.
The bench, also comprising Justices Ajay Rastogi and S Ravindra Bhat, asked the AG, who was also present in the courtroom to look into the matter. It said that a journalist has filed a document saying that he is being stalked, while covering a particular corporate fraud.
Chief Justice Lalit told the AG there is a perception that a security breach might happen and the court can’t disclose the name because it might result in something. The bench said it is providing the AG with a copy of the sealed cover document.
The top court noted that the AG has assured it that personal safety of the person and family would be taken care of. Dehadrai urged the bench to appoint an amicus curiae in the matter. A counsel, representing the Centre, submitted before the court that the reply in the matter is being prepared. The top court appointed senior advocate Kavin Gulati as an amicus curiae and listed the matter for further hearing on November 3.
Speaking to IANS, Dehadrai said: “The Attorney General has assured protection for the journalist and his family, who have been investigating the Amtek bank fraud case. The bench has taken the journalist’s affidavit on record in sealed cover. The affidavit contains specifics about dummy directors and shell companies’ set up by the Amtek promoters to launder thousands of crores worth of bank loans which had been siphoned by them. Now it is for the agencies to explain what steps they are taking to trace this public money which has been looted so brazenly.”
On September 5, Dehadrai had submitted that Section 7, IBC petition against Amtek was admitted on July 24, 2017, and an IRP (interim resolution professional) Dinkar Venkatsubramanian (former E.Y. partner) was appointed. “IRP confirmed as RP on August 22, 2017 and engaged EY to carry out a forensic audit report. On March 13, 2018, detailed forensic audit report submitted to RP which discloses overwhelming evidence confirming fraudulent transactions intended to defraud creditors. Nature of fraudulent transactions, namely, (1) undervalued transactions, (2) preferential transactions, (3) transactions defrauding creditors, and (4) extortionate credit transactions,” he had contended before the apex court.
He further added that forensic auditors failed to detect common benaami directors in 127 related parties which obtained fraudulent loans worth Rs. 1,358 crore. Dehadrai said RP was responsible for: (a) deliberate concealment of AAL and related parties’ documents to auditors, (b) deliberate failure to pursue recovery of transactions defrauding creditors.
Petitioner Jaskaran Singh Chawla has made the Ministry of Corporate Affairs (MCA), CBI, ED, and SFIO, as respondents in the petition.