Vancouver-based Royal Indian Raj International Corporation, which said it would set up a $2.9 billion smart city near Bangalore, is looking to leapfrog into the mega league despite its almost non-existent track record.
Riric's chief executive Manoj Benjamin says funds are not a problem as a UK-based private investment group called GEM (Global Emerging Markets) Global Yield Fund is investing £300 million in the project.
The company's president, Collin Benjamin, says apart from GEM, more money is being arranged from other sources. The company is trying to get funds through Karnataka Udyog Mitra, a single-window clearance for foreign direct investment projects, he says.
They are, however, silent on Riric's track record and its finances. Repeated queries about the company's balance sheet met with a standard response: "Our family is the sole investor in Riric. We do not reveal any other details about our finances. All we can say at this point is that we have enough capital within our organisation."
What is Riric's track record? A company release says it is an overseas corporate body that was incorporated in Nevada, US, five years ago. The company website (www. royalindianraj.com) claims that its several sectoral interests range from real estate to road building to broadband communications to theme parks and lottery. The website, however, gives no details of any of these projects.
For several years at least, Riric is said to have been scouting for Indian partners to invest in a diverse range of businesses from ostrich farming to the gaming business to real estate.Its website claims that Riric has a partnership with the Khoday Group in the lottery business. The Khoday group, however, denied this. Four years ago, Riric had approached the Khoday group to start an ostrich meat export enterprise and a gaming business in Karnataka. Khoday Group vice-president Jagannath Rao, however, said: "We didn't entertain the idea as it did not fall into our core business area.