New Delhi: Finance minister Pranab Mukherjee today directed public sector lenders and insurers to look into their exposures to various companies mentioned in the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) application filed in court in connection with housing finance racket busted by the investing agency yesterday, reports PTI.
At a review meeting with officers of the Department of Financial Services (DFS) on the situation arising out of the CBI case involving top officials of LIC Housing Finance and some banks, the finance minister also asked board of directors of lenders to carry out a fresh assessment of their non-performing assets.
Among the companies named by CBI yesterday are financial services firm Money Matters, DB Realty, Pashmina Ltd, Mantri Realty, Sigrun Ltd, Entertainment World and Indore City Treasures.
DFS said that the racket was an isolated instance of alleged gratification.
“DFS also conveyed that as per information available with them, the asset quality in these cases have not been impaired,” a finance ministry statement said today.
Mr Mukherjee said while CBI will take necessary action as per its mandate, banks and financial institutions should be instructed to take appropriate action against these individuals as per established procedure.
He also directed banks and financial institutions to strengthen the NPA monitoring and management in their institutions to ensure that advance action is taken to identify incipient sickness and take appropriate action thereon.
The finance minister asked these lenders to be ensure that all procedures and due diligence consistent with board approved guidelines have been followed while approving loans by the competent authority.
He wanted the DFS, regulatory authorities and institutions to take immediate action to review and strengthen the procedures further in this regard.
The Bombay Stock Exchange has decided to revise the free-float adjustment factor (FFF) of 39 stocks in various indices. The revision is part of the quarterly review of the index constituents based on the shareholding pattern filed for the quarter ended September 2010.
Power Grid Corporation’s FFF has been revised to 0.35 from 0.15 earlier. The stock is a constituent of the BSE-100, BSE-200, BSE-500 and BSE Power indices. Pipavav Shipyard’s FFF has been revised to 0.20 from 0.25. The stock is a constituent of BSE-500, BSE IPO and BSE Mid-cap indices. Cox & Kings’ FFF has been revised to 0.35 from 0.30. Cox & Kings is a constituent of BSE-500, BSE IPO and BSE Mid-cap indices.
Similarly, SpiceJet’s FFF has been revised to 0.65 from 0.85. The stock is a constituent of the BSE-500 and BSE Mid-cap indices. KS Oils’ FFF has been revised to 0.60 from 0.50. The stock is a constituent of BSE-500 and BSE Mid-cap indices. Ansal Properties & Infrastructure, which is a constituent of BSE-500 and BSE Small-cap indices, has been revised to 0.45 from 0.40 earlier. The FFF of Panacea Biotec, a constituent of BSE-500 and BSE Small-cap indices, has been revised to 0.30 from 0.35.
The revised free-float adjustment factors would come into effect from 29 November 2010.
Real estate valuations are opaque and the government had openly supported the sector after the financial crisis. The current real estate scam is the outcome of these two factors, say experts
The arrest of eight officials from public sector banks and financial companies for allegedly taking bribes to sanction loans to realty firms, has drawn attention to one of the key factors that has led to this real estate scam: Opaque valuation methods that allow artificially high valuation of properties, making it possible to go for such improper loans.
"It's not just a matter of involvement of public sector banks or mediators; the system of real estate valuations is the crux of the scam," said Pankaj Kapoor, CEO & founder of Liases Foras, a real estate rating and research firm. "I think the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) got involved in the matter because there could be risky securities on which loans have been given. For instance, a property which should have a value of Rs150 crore is being projected as worth Rs500 crore. That becomes the security on which a bank gives loans and is where the risk comes in," Mr Kapoor told Moneylife. The real estate sector is the least transparent of the large business sectors. Developers are always keen to get huge finances on artificial valuations on their properties as the industry is unregulated.
Officers in the top management and middle management of Bank of India (BoI), Central Bank of India (CBoI), Punjab National Bank (PNB), Life Insurance Corporation of India (LIC) and LIC Housing Finance were receiving illegal gratification through a private financial services company, acting as mediator and facilitator for corporate loans and other facilities from these institutions, the CBI said in a statement.
"As of now, the name of only one arranger (of the loans) has come out, but I think there would be small and big arrangers in the industry," Mr Kapoor said.
Being an unorganised and unregulated industry, not just big but small developers too in major cities try to value property rates to their advantage. It is left to diligent banking officials to give loans against valuations that are realisitic. "There were pressures on the PSU banks to give more and more loans to developers," explained Mr Kapoor.
As a fall-out of the LIC Housing scam "there will be repercussions in terms of increased caution by banks in lending to developers. Borrowing will become more expensive and the process involved in getting loans will get lengthier as banks increase their vigilance levels. This means that we may see a marginal increase in the dependence on private equity," said Anuj Puri, chairman and country head, Jones Lang LaSalle India.
Experts have been expecting a sharp fall in property rates since last year, when other industries were crippled in the recession; but property rates did not come down significantly as developers continued to get funds from financial institutions.
"In the period of the recession, when real estate prices had to come down significantly, why did the government ask PSU banks to give loans to the real estate sector? Now we are suffering the effects of that decision. This year we have crossed another peak in real estate rates because the government allowed further infusion of funds in the real estate industry," Mr Kapoor said.