Prashant Bhushan alleged that RIL, with the help of ICICI Bank, laundered and funnelled back into Reliance companies over Rs6,500 crore through Singapore-based Bio Metrix Marketing
Aam Admi Party (AAP) leader Prashant Bhushan has complained to the Special Investigation Team (SIT) on black money to investigate and prosecute what he calls 'huge money laundering and siphoning of money involving India's largest business group, Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL) and private lender ICICI Bank.'
Bhushan, in a letter sent to ML Meena, member secretary of the SIT, said, "We all know that there have been two detailed CAG reports that RIL is involved in inflation of capital expenditure, over invoicing and siphoning of money from the KG Basin D6 Block. There is a clear suspicion that such amounts are being laundered and funnelled back into Reliance companies."
Our mails sent to RIL remain unanswered till writing the story. We would incorporate their response as and when we receive it.
Citing a letter reportedly sent by the Indian High Commission in Singapore on 31 August 2011, the AAP leader said, "The High Commission had stated that Rs6,530 crore have come into India from Bio Metrix Marketing Ltd, a one room company in Singapore that does not do any business. It was pointed out that this is a company with no assets, no equity and does not file an income tax returns in Singapore claiming to be a small company. Yet, this huge investment by this company, amounting to Rs6,530 crore is the single biggest foreign direct investment (FDI) into India from Singapore."
"The High Commission had stated that all this money has gone into Reliance group companies in India with the major chunk going to Reliance Gas Transportation Infrastructure Ltd, which is a company 100% owned by Mr Mukesh Ambani personally," Bhushan said in his letter.
According to Bhushan, the Commission had pointed out that one Atul Shanti Kumar Dayal effectively owned this company Bio Metrix. He alleged, "Mr Dayal is nothing but a front for Reliance, since he is a director in 32 Reliance group companies. Now it has come to light that this company Bio Metrix has closed down."
He further stated that "Reliance is laundering its ill-gotten profits from KG Basin through Singapore and depositing the same into accounts of Mr Mukesh Ambani."
Bhushan said, pursuant to his letter and press conference on 27th February, RIL issued a press statement. Quoting media reports, he said that Reliance stated, “These investments in the Indian companies were made by Biometrix out of loans raised from ICICI Bank, Singapore branch.”
"The ICICI bank did not issue any denial to the press statement issued by Reliance," Bhushan said.
According to the AAP leader and lawyer, the statement issued by RIL raises more question than it answers. He said, "The ICICI Bank had given a loan of thousands of crore to a company with no equity, no assets and no business. What was the collateral or security taken by the ICICI Bank before issuing such a huge loan? What was the due diligence done by the ICICI Bank before issuing this loan? The bank does not give even a small loan to an ordinary person, even for purchasing a car or house without proper security and documentation. But who sanctioned the Rs6,530 crore loan to this company with no business? Has the loan been returned by Bio Metrix to ICICI Bank? Now this company Bio Metrix has closed down. So how will the bank recover this loan?"
Citing international conventions on money laundering, Bhushan said, the duty is put on the financial institutions to observe due diligence and transparency to prevent money laundering. "It is also the duty of the Government to investigate all such transactions. The question therefore arises, was ICICI bank an accomplice in the money laundering operation carried out by Reliance? The Government of India has just sat over these facts for about three years. The Government has not bothered to investigate this case of money laundering perhaps because powerful entities like Reliance and ICICI Bank are involved," he alleged in the letter.
Bhushan mentioned in the letter that he had sent a letter on 23rd July to Prime Minister Narendra Modi with a copy to Justice MB Shah, chairperson and Justice Arijit Pasayat, vice chairperson of the SIT.