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RIL money-laundering charges under apex court's scanner

Last updated on: March 27, 2014 16:33 IST

RIL money-laundering charges under apex court's scanner

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BS Reporters in New Delhi

The Supreme Court on Wednesday asked the government to file a report on the steps it had taken on the request of the Indian High Commission in Singapore for an investigation into the alleged Rs 6,500-crore (Rs 65-billion) investment by Biometrix Marketing and Strasbourg Holdings in four Reliance Industries Ltd companies.

In August 2011, the Indian High Commission in Singapore had written to the government for a probe into investments made by the firm, ‘a one-room defunct company in Singapore’.

A Supreme Court Bench, hearing a public interest suit related to an increased price for natural gas produced from RIL’s KG-D6 block, said: “We want to know what inquiry was done in the matter after the High Commission letter.”

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Image: A man walks past a Reliance Industries Limited sign board installed on a road divider in Gandhinagar.
Photographs: Amit Dave/Reuters

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RIL on February 27 rejected the allegations of making foreign direct investments in certain Indian companies through the Singapore-based Biometrix.

“The investments by Biometrix were open, transparent and perfectly legitimate transactions in full compliance with the extant regulations.

“These investments in the Indian companies were made by Biometrix out of loans raised from ICICI Bank, Singapore branch.

“ICICI Bank has confirmed this fact to the regulators.

“Regulatory authorities have fully investigated the matter and have found no substance in the allegations of money laundering.

“The insinuation that this money was from ‘gold plating’ of KG-D6 is completely irresponsible and false,” the company had said in a statement.

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Image: Reliance Industries KG-D6's floating production storage and offloading vessel.
Photographs: Reuters

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RIL money-laundering charges under apex court's scanner

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The RIL statement had clarified that allegations had been previously made during judicial proceedings in the Delhi High Court and had been appropriately responded to.

“Our legal advisor, Atul Dayal, was neither the owner nor director of Biometrix, and Biometrix has filed its balance sheets and income-tax returns in each year with the regulatory authorities in Singapore.

“The allegations that ill-gotten laundered money or profits have either been made or that these have been deposited in the accounts of Mr Mukesh Ambani through Singapore, or otherwise, are false and are treated by us with the contempt they deserve,” the RIL statement had said.

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Image: An oil refinery.
Photographs: Reuters

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RIL money-laundering charges under apex court's scanner

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Advocate Prashant Bhushan, also an Aam Aadmi Party leader, appearing for the petitioners Common Cause, on Wednesday pointed out that this (Biometrix) was a company with no assets, no equity and, claiming to be a small company, did not file income-tax returns in Singapore.

Yet, the investment of Rs 6,530 crore (Rs 65.3 billion) by the company was the single biggest FDI into India from Singapore.

“The High Commission had said all this money had gone into the Reliance group of companies in India with a major chunk going to Reliance Gas Transportation Infrastructure Ltd, which is a 100 per cent owned by Mukesh Ambani personally,” he added.


Image: Reliance Industries chairman Mukesh Ambani with Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi.
Photographs: Reuters

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