Former Religare chief Sunil Godhwani detained  at  IGI  airport  over  fraud

  • SFIO had issued a lookout circular for Godhwani, who was reportedly trying to catch a flight to London
  • Former promoters alleged Godhwani misused his position that led to a rise in the group’s debt load

Teena Thacker
Published31 May 2019, 12:19 AM IST
Sunil Godhwani became Religare’s CEO in 2001 and stepped down as the CMD on 29 July 2016
Sunil Godhwani became Religare’s CEO in 2001 and stepped down as the CMD on 29 July 2016

New Delhi: Former Religare Enterprises Ltd chairman Sunil Godhwani was detained at Delhi’s Indira Gandhi International Airport on Thursday by the Economic Offences Wing (EOW), two people aware of the development confirmed.

Godhwani was trying to catch a flight to London, the people said on the condition of anonymity. The Serious Fraud Investigation Office (SFIO) had issued a lookout circular for Godhwani in a case related to Religare Enterprises Ltd, which is under the scanner for alleged financial irregularities. Godhwani has been accused of cheating, fraud and misappropriation of funds to the tune of 740 crore, according to a police complaint by Religare Finvest Ltd (RFL). Godhwani could not be immediately reached for comment.

In August, the former promoters of Fortis Healthcare Ltd and Religare, brothers Malvinder Singh and Shivinder Singh, blamed him for the group’s troubles.

The Godhwani family ran a leather business in Delhi and has been known to the Singhs for over two generations. He was the brain behind all financial- and investment-related decisions made by Malvinder and Shivinder Singh, according to the brothers.

Sunil Godhwani and his brother Sanjay were recommended by Gurinder Singh Dhillon, head of the Radha Soami Satsang Beas, who is the Singh brothers’ maternal uncle, to run Religare Enterprises, a non-banking financial company.

After the Ranbaxy Laboratories Ltd’s (then owned by the Singh brothers) sale to Daiichi Sankyo Ltd closed in 2008, it was decided that Godhwani would lead their family office in addition to his role at Religare and, from 2008-end, he had full management control of RHC Holding and its subsidiaries.

Godhwani started his association with Religare as its chief executive officer (CEO) in 2001 and stepped down as the chairman and managing director of the company on 29 July 2016. Subsequently, he assumed charge of Religare Enterprises as the CEO.

According to a joint statement issued by the former promoters of Religare in August, Godhwani used his position to conceive and orchestrate a series of transactions over the better part of a decade that led to an increase in the group’s debt load.

“He was expected to be a responsible trustee and steward of the family’s resources and consequently our reputation,” the statement said.

In February, Malvinder Singh even filed a police complaint against his former associates Sunil and Sanjay Godhwani, along with some employees of Ligare Aviation Ltd, for allegedly defrauding Singh’s Malav Holdings Pvt. Ltd of 30 crore.

One of the charges filed on behalf of Malav Holdings claims that the Godhwani brothers, along with officials working for Ligare, sanctioned bogus and fake invoices for fictitious expenses. The complaint was filed on 30 November with the economic offences wing of Delhi Police.

In March, the EOW had registered a first information report on the complaint of Religare Finvest, a unit of Religare Enterprises, against Godhwani, and other associates.

Religare Finvest, in its complaint, alleged that Religare Enterprises and its subsidiary Religare Finvest Ltd have been duped and the company’s properties worth “hundreds of crores have been misappropriated, siphoned off and diverted through a labyrinth of financial transactions”.

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First Published:31 May 2019, 12:19 AM IST
HomeCompaniesNewsFormer Religare chief Sunil Godhwani detained  at  IGI  airport  over  fraud

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