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SC stays arrest, paves way for Kampani to return to India

SC stays arrest, paves way for Kampani to return to India
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First Published: Thu, Apr 02 2009. 10 27 PM IST

 Returning home? Nimesh Kampani of JM Financial Ltd. Ashesh Shah / Mint
Returning home? Nimesh Kampani of JM Financial Ltd. Ashesh Shah / Mint
Updated: Thu, Apr 02 2009. 10 27 PM IST
New Delhi: The chairman of JM Financial Ltd, Nimesh Kampani, can now come back to India without fear of being arrested, but it wasn’t immediately clear on Thursday if he would.
Returning home? Nimesh Kampani of JM Financial Ltd. Ashesh Shah / Mint
India’s Supreme Court on Thursday granted a stay on the arrest of Kampani on charges of allegedly defrauding depositors of Nagarjuna Finance Ltd or NFL. The veteran investment banker has been living the life of a fugitive since 27 December 2008 in Dubai.
He is battling the Andhra Pradesh government and the state’s police to avoid an arrest in a case involving the Hyderabad-based non-banking finance company, where he had served as an independent director till April 1999.
Since December 2008, there have been 93 complaints against Kampani lodged with the Andhra Pardesh police for charges of criminal breach of trust and cheating under the Indian Penal Code, 1860, and Andhra Pradesh Protection of Depositors of Financial Establishments Act, 1999.
A 30 December 2008 press release of JM Financial had said: “Kampani was in Mumbai...until 18 December...and was...in different parts of the country attending to business commitments until 27 December... He then travelled to Dubai to participate in business meetings. He is currently in Dubai and is expected to return to India upon completion of his business meetings.” He has been out of India for over three months now.
On Thursday, JM Financial spokeswoman Nandini Goswami declined comment on whether Kampani would come back to India following the apex court’s stay on his arrest. Goswami also declined to comment on the court’s order.
On 25 February, the Andhra Pradesh high court dismissed Kampani’s plea to have his name removed from the list of accused in the 93 complaints and quash the complaints against him related to the repayment of deposits. The high court also refused to grant him anticipatory bail.
On Wednesday, Kampani filed a petition in the Supreme Court, seeking permission to appeal against the high court order and asked the court to urgently hear the case to stay his arrest.
On Thursday, senior counsel Harish Salve, appearing for Kampani, told the court that the complaints were baseless and being filed only to “harass” his client who was not a director of NFL.
A bench, headed by Chief Justice of India K.G. Balakrishnan, granted a stay on Kampani’s arrest. Kampani’s petition said that the allegations “stem from the failure of the management of NFL to pay back its depositors.”
The Company Law Board had in 2000 directed NFL to pay back its depositors and transfer the management control and liabilities to Mahalaxmi Factoring Services Ltd.
The petition stated that Kampani was only an independent director of NFL who “does not hold and has never personally held any equity” in NFL.
The Andhra Pradesh police had issued a look-out notice for Kampani at international airports. This means that he stood the chance of being arrested the moment he presented his passport at an immigration counter at any airport across the world.
Interestingly, one of the acts under which charges have been brought against him is the Andhra Pradesh Protection of Depositors of Financial Establishments Act, 1999, that was notified in November 1999.
According to JM Financial’s December statement, Kampani had resigned from the board of the company before that—in April 1999.
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First Published: Thu, Apr 02 2009. 10 27 PM IST