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Defaulters Of Rs 650 Crore ‘Good Friends’ With Union Minister Piyush Goyal And Family

The Railway minister has even served as the chairman of Shirdi Industries till 2010

Even as India’s financial system is on the verge of succumbing to bank debt scams of several thousand crores, a report in The Wire by Journalist Rohini Singh claims that the Union Minister of Railways and Coal, Piyush Goyal had an association with a firm that currently has defaulted a loan of a whopping Rs 650 crores.

Goyal served as the chairman of Mumbai-based Shirdi Industries, which has time and again failed to repay the loan taken from a number of government-run banks.The list of banks includes Union Bank, State Bank of India, UCO Bank, Bank of India, Indian Bank and Standard Chartered Bank.

Entities registered as Shirdi, Asis and Intercon Advisors have been reportedly practising a number unethical corporate borrowings among themselves and have together defaulted a huge loan amount to the banks.

The comprehensive report by The Wire has also revealed that the Shirdi promoters namely Rakesh Agarwal, Sarvesh Agarwal, Mukesh Bansal and Hariram Agarwal have also extended an unsecured loan via another business body Intercon Advisers Pvt Limited which is run by Goyal’s wife, Seema, and son, Dhruv Goyal. And to add, this loan was approved when the National Company Law Tribunal had already referred the creditor banks to take a 60% haircut from Shirdi enterprises- banking parlance for a part write-off – on the debt owned by the company.

Though the Agarwals have out and out denied of taking any advantage of their close family friend Piyush Goyal’s political powers and position, the data that has come out tell a different story.

In a bizarre development that is sure to raise eyebrows, NCLT in its latest order in December 2017 allowed Shirdi’s promoters to bid for their own company. It should be mentioned that this decision of the NCLT breached the Modi government’s November 2017 ordinance on non-performing assets. The ordinance bars existing promoters from bidding for their own company if the loans are classified as non-performing assets for more than a year.

Rakesh Agarwal, the head of Shirdi promoters, admitted that they share a very friendly relationship with the Goyals, but said that it has nothing to do with them getting unjustified loans one after another and defaulting on the repayments. Rakesh was quoted as saying in the report, “Piyush is a very close friend of mine since 1994. My relationship with Piyush is of a very loving nature and a very respectful nature but I have never used that relationship or taken benefits from it. We don’t come from that sort of culture.” Agarwal said that they were interested having Goyal on board to get ‘guidance’ from him.

However, the filings to the registrar of companies (RoC) made by Shirdi show that Goyal had been a part of the group since 2008 and in later 2009 he became the non-executive director. It must be mentioned that company has defaulted on provident fund payments of Rs. 4 crores too.

Coming back to the firm owned by Goyal’s wife and son, Intercon Advisors Private Limited had reportedly borrowed an unsecured amount of Rs 1.59 crore from Asis Industries (another entity of the Agarwals) in 2016.

Piyush remained a government nominee on the board of two state-owned banks – Bank of Baroda during the Vajpayee-run NDA government, and State Bank of India from 2004-2008 during the Manmohan Singh government’s tenure. In 2010, he was made the treasurer of the BJP and nominated to the Rajya Sabha.

A few small companies registered under Asis Industries are said to be defaulting a loan amount of Rs 60 crores. Agarwal who claimed to be fighting the situation said, “Unlike other defaulters, we are still here and fighting from the front. We haven’t closed operations in any of the firms. The loan amounts there are small.”

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