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Reebok India probe faces delay on late filings

November 22, 2012 09:33 IST

ReebokReebok India is likely to miss the November 30 deadline for filing its audited accounts for FY12 to the registrar of companies, which could further delay the final investigation report of the Serious Fraud Investigation Office on the alleged cheating in the company during the financial year.

"The audited accounts have to be passed at the company's annual general meeting before they are submitted to the RoC.

"The company is also required to give 21 days of notice prior to the AGM. However, there is no such notice as yet.

"So, it is unlikely that the company would be able to meet the November 30 deadline," a government official in the know of developments told Business Standard.

When contacted, Reebok India refused to comment.

"Since your query pertains to matters internal to our organisation, we will not be able to offer any comments on them," the company said in response to an e-mail questionnaire.

Earlier, in September, the sportswear maker had got a two months extension from the RoC to file its audited accounts for a 15-month period -- from January 1, 2011 to March 31, 2012.

According to the norms, companies are required to file their audited annual accounts to the regulator by September 30.

However, in view of the alleged financial irregularities in the company in the past few years, and the ongoing investigations by various agencies, the company had told RoC that it could not finalise its statutory audit of accounts by December and instead, it wanted to file the same for a 15-month period.

According to a senior official in the ministry of corporate affairs, Reebok has not sought any further

extension in the date for filing accounts to the RoC.

This assumes significance because it is also likely to lead to a delay in the probe report of the SFIO on the alleged fraud by two former top executives of Reebok India -- Subhinder Singh Prem and Vishnu Bhagat.

A senior SFIO official said, "We are almost through with our investigation, but we will have to wait for the audited accounts because it is crucial to the probe, mainly to sustain our charges."

The official added that it would need around 15 more days after receiving the accounts to finalise its report. The agency was originally scheduled to submit its report by October.

In a First Information Report filed with the Gurgaon police on May 21, Adidas AG, the German parent company of Reebok, had accused Prem and Bhagat of 'criminal conspiracy' and 'fraudulent' practices over a period of time that allegedly caused the company a loss of Rs 870 crore (Rs 8.7 billion).

Following this, the case was put into investigation under various agencies.

In September, the Gurgaon Police arrested Prem and Bhagat along with 10 others, for falsification of records, diversion of funds, causing loss to the company and wrongful gain.

Recently, in a chargesheet sheet filed in the case at the Gurgaon district court, the police has recorded a fraud of much lower amount than what has been claimed by Reebok.

Subhash Gulati, counsel of Prem and Bhagat, had earlier said that all the pending return statements concerning the goods in question as of December 31, 2011, which stood at Rs 62.99 crore (Rs 629.9 million), were processed and duly reconciled between January and March 2012, whereas the complaint filed with Gurgaon police talks about status only till December 31, 2011.

Sushmi Dey in New Delhi