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NSEL saga: Was Jignesh Shah a victim of corporate conspiracy?

Source: PTI
September 08, 2019 21:45 IST
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'We were number one in commodity, currency, electricity, bonds, spot and everything.

'The purpose was to create an accident and then exploit it to eliminate the group. There were so many vested interests and therefore they did this," said Shah.

Beleaguered businessman Jignesh Shah, who had to exit all his exchange businesses after a massive Rs 5,600 crore payment default engulfed his spot exchange NSEL, has said he became a target of political and corporate conspiracy but always maintained his faith in the judiciary.


"I did not flee to London... And my stand has been vindicated by court orders one after another and none of the investigative agency have found any wrongdoing on my part for even a single paisa," Shah said.

Several businessmen are said to have fled to London after allegedly defaulting on loans and other business commitments in past few years.

In an exclusive interview, Shah told PTI that his main focus in the last six years, ever since the payment default at the erstwhile National Spot Exchange Ltd (NSEL) broke out in 2013, has been recovery of funds from defaulter brokers and the groundwork is complete now for recovery of funds for payment of entire dues to all genuine claimants.

"It is possible to resolve the case within 4-6 months by following the right path to recover the entire amount of Rs 5,600 crore from defaulter brokers and all genuine claimants can get their full dues.

“And, I am hopeful about the resolution, as also about punishment to all those who were party to the fraud, because there is a conducing political environment in the country under a strong leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi," he said.

He said the recovery group at NSEL has managed to establish full money trail of the entire amount of Rs 5,600 crore, assets worth over Rs 8,000 crore of defaulters have been attached, Rs 3,300 crore of decrees and arbitration awards have been obtained and the same for the balance amount was underway.

"If we get cooperation from the agencies and the government, in the next 3-4 months, we can obtain full decrees for all 17 defaulters for the entire amount of Rs 5,600 crore, along with arbitration awards and injunctions.

"We have already filed for execution of these decrees at various courts and we have also moved an application at the Supreme Court to centralise the execution," he said.

The 52-year-old businessman, who had launched 14 exchanges across six continents including MCX in 2003, was forced out of all his exchanges and related businesses in the aftermath of the NSEL crisis.

Shah, who was jailed thrice and then released between 2014 and 2016 (first by Mumbai Police's Economic Offence Wing in May 2014 and then by Enforcement Directorate and the CBI in 2016), said he always believed in the judiciary and his stand is getting vindicated by the court orders one after another as no agency has found any money trail to him or his group firms for even a single paisa.

One of the latest victories for him came late last month when the Bombay high court ruled that the NSEL was not a financial establishment and quashed the attachment of assets, including bank accounts and properties, of 63 Moons Technologies, the parent company of Shah-led group which was earlier known as Financial Technologies (FT).

The Supreme Court has also set aside a government order to merge NSEL with 63 Moons, while the NCLT last year had dismissed a plea of the corporate affairs ministry to supersede the 63 Moons' board.

He said it was wrong to close NSEL, a running exchange at that time and it had never happened before.

"PNB was not closed down when Nirav Modi defaulted and the PNB chairman was not put in jail because of the default by a customer. Rather, the probe focussed on the particular branch and the persons involved there," he said, referring to the customer fraud that had rocked the state-run Punjab National Bank.

"But all of this was done in our case and the entire blame was put on Jignesh Shah, who was group chairman of 14 exchanges with their own management teams and CEOs.

“The NSEL was the smallest with a volume of Rs 200 crore a day, but MCX was an exchange with daily turnover of Rs 1.2 lakh crore.

“There were other big businesses where no default happened, but all had to face the brunt," he said.

"There was a very clear-cut target and it was to finish Jignesh Shah and to eliminate the FT group from the exchange space. Because, we had got the equity license.

“We were the party which was number one in commodity, currency, electricity, bonds, spot and everything," Shah said.

"The purpose was to create an accident and then exploit it to eliminate the group. There were so many vested interests and therefore they did this," he said.

Shah said even after the "employee fraud" had taken place at NSEL, it would have been easy to solve it as these were all banking transactions with full money trail and the defaulters had admitted to pay and the recovery was possible in flat six weeks.

"On the criminality side, it was an employee fraud in connivance with defaulters and it could have been easy for the police to investigate under IPC and find out the criminals," he said.

Shah said he has himself never shied away from any investigation.

"I have always cooperated and I am ready even now for any investigation... From the day one, I have honoured each and every summon, including on Sundays.

"I never applied for any foreign travel, though I was running exchanges across six continents... My passport was with me for one year after the episode but I did not go away and I do not intend to go," he said.

Shah said a perception was created that he had pocketed Rs 5,600 crore, but the real intention was to derail the entire process.

"The employee fraud was forgotten and Jignesh Shah was made a poster-boy of all things bad and all exchanges were taken away from me by arm-twisting," he said.

Photograph: PTI Photo

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