The premium game: How politicians generate white money through shell companies

Chaggan Bhujbal is alleged to have used sky-high valuation of shell companies to collect money, in return for giving out largesse. This is an increasingly popular trick with Indian politicians turned “businessmen”


There was a time when politicians did politics and used businessmen to raise money as they approached the elections. Then politicians started being sleeping partners in business ventures and then, they themselves became businessmen in their own right – owning real estate, education and other service businesses. But the most sophisticated of their moves has been to create shell companies whose shares are sold to businessmen at a stupendous premium (per share), ensuring neatly laundered, possibly tax paid wealth for our netas. There is no need for benami holding. It is all white and perfectly legal. Those, who bought shares on these shell companies usually, got concessions, mines, and large tracts of land in return.
 
It was Jagan Reddy, under the benign watch of his saintly father, the late Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister YS Rajashekhar Reddy, who brazenly dispensed with the multiple layers, to hide true identity. That is why the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) is having such a field day digging into his wealth-generation network and linkages with top politicians of Andhra Pradesh (AP). 
 
It turns out that the trick is now spreading across other states. One politician who has taken to this neat trick and is just as brazen is Chaggan  Bhujbal, the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) strongman who struts around in designer suits, and has already built a massive education empire on prime property all over Maharashtra. Now, Kirit Somiaya, of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) had done a sting operation to put Mr Bhujbal in the headlines. According to the grapevine, Mr Bhujbal’s problems partly stem from a disastrous falling out that he had with a chartered accountant Mr Sunil Karve, who presided over his educational empire. That dispute is under litigation.
 
In the Bhujbal case, Mr Kirit Somiaya, a former Member of Parliament (MP) and investor activist, established before the media that 11 companies including 
Mangal Sago Pvt Ltd and Minu Tex Processors Pvt Ltd allegedly purchased shares in Parvesh Construction Pt Ltd, which belongs to the NCP leader and PWD minister Chhagan Bhujbal. These companies did not exist at their state registered address which was a housing society called Coral Crest at Navi Mumbai. The others were Ashok Investment Corporation Pvt Ltd, Discovery Buildcon Pvt Ltd, Greenline Vyapaar Pvt Ltd, Hingora Fabvest Pvt Ltd, Nihon Commodities Pvt Ltd, Presidency Merchants' Pvt Ltd, Sneha Residency Pvt Ltd, Sunview Retail Pvt Ltd and Universal Resources India.
 
These companies bought shares of Parvesh Constructions at Rs10,000 each for a face value of Rs100 i.e. a premium of 9800%. Mr Somiaya claims that there are 31 bogus companies which have acted as fronts for Mr Bhujbal. There are also investments by the 2G scandal-hit DB Realty, one of whose promoters, Mr Vinod Goenka is supposedly very close to the NCP supremo Sharad Pawar. 
 
Stunningly, the government which has prepared a white paper on black money has not ordered an investigation so far. The Income Tax department, which harasses legitimate businessmen with significantly less wealth, is apparently awaiting instructions from its political masters. Since the finance portfolio is now with the Prime Minster, the buck clearly stops at the highest executive office in India. 
 
Mr Somaiya makes the serious allegation that the deal is in the form of kickbacks for the contract to reconstruct a lavish Maharashtra Sadan in Delhi and that KS Chamankar Group which bagged the contract also walked away with over 30 lakh sq ft of saleable area in Mumbai.  
 
The modus operandi allegedly used by Mr Bhujbal’s companies is popular with many politicians. In Andhra Pradesh, the CBI is questioning several politicians and companies in connection with the disproportionate assets case against Mr Jaganmohan Reddy. These include managing directors of Hetro Drugs (Srinivasa Reddy), Aurobindo Pharma (Nityananda Reddy) Trident Life Sciences (Sarat Chandra Reddy), Ayodhyarami Reddy (Ramky Group Chairman) and most importantly Nimmagadda Prasad of Matrix laboratories who was considered an entrepreneur with a golden touch. Several IAS officers who facilitated these deals are also arrested and questioned. 
 
Mr Prasad (known as Matrix Prasad) allegedly invested Rs500 crore in different businesses of Jagan Reddy in return for several benefits from the former Chief Minister. The goodies that he received included 15,000 acres of land at Guntur.  The Jagan Reddy companies that received Mr Prasad’s largess included Rs100 crore in Jagati Publications (publishes his Telugu daily Sakshi), Rs244 crore in Bharati Cements and Rs200 crore in Carmel Asia. All these were at a fancy premium. For instance, three of Mr Prasad’s companies – Gilchrist Investments Pvt Ltd, Alpha Villas Pvt Ltd and Alpha Avenues Pvt Ltd bought shares in Jagan's companies at a premium of Rs350 apiece for a share with face value of Rs10.
 
As Moneylife has reported earlier, it was common in Hyderabad for politicians to sell their stakes in companies controlled by them to big businessmen at a huge premium. In return, they got access to natural resources (like iron ore) or land for infrastructure projects. The CBI has also quizzed N Srinivasan of India Cements, who was also allegedly using the quid pro quo model, for funding Jaganmohan Reddy, in return for limestone allocations.  A similar arrangement with the Gali brothers of Bellary, who were ministers in the Karnataka government has recently been scrapped. 
 
These are not the only examples.  Former Jharkhand Chief Minister, Madhu Koda, who ripped off Rs4000 crore for the State’s rich mineral resources is also understood to have used a string of companies to transfer wealth abroad.  
 
Investigators have also found a link between him and Maharashtra Congress minister Kripashankar Singh, who began life as a vegetable vendor and turned enormously wealthy as a politician. 
 
Interestingly, many of the companies that have funded politicians in return for massive land, infrastructure contracts or other goodies are listed entities. The dubious investment companies have all been floated because the Ministry of Corporate Affairs (MCA) pays no attention to what is happening under its watch. Yet, Minister Veerappa Moily has been touring the country exhorting investors and intermediaries to follow the highest standards of good governance. 
Comments
SKMehta
9 years ago
So much is written about incidents and methods adopted for corruption,yet nothing has been written about ways to stop these methods.For one,Remember the controller of capital issues,which has been abolished. During that time no new/shell coy was allowed to raise an initial issue above par value.why not start from there.
Rajkumar Singh
Replied to SKMehta comment 9 years ago
Hope you have followed what I have conveyed through my reply to the comment of Wilfred D'Silva.

If we keep on repeating it the measures, we will land up with Taarikh Pe Taarikh, an unending process to justify the things or to find a magic solution to it.
Rajkumar Singh
Replied to SKMehta comment 9 years ago
Hope you have followed what I have conveyed through my reply to the comment of Wilfred D'Silva.

If we keep on repeating it the measures, we will land up with Taarikh Pe Taarikh, an unending process to justify the things or to find a magic solution to it.
Rajkumar Singh
Replied to SKMehta comment 9 years ago
Hope you have followed what I have conveyed through my reply to the comment of Wilfred D'Silva.

If we keep on repeating it the measures, we will land up with Taarikh Pe Taarikh, an unending process to justify the things or to find a magic solution to it.
Wilfred DSilva
9 years ago
thank you Money Life for this info My desire to co operate with the Anna team deepens
Wilfred
Rajkumar Singh
Replied to Wilfred DSilva comment 9 years ago
No need to weaken your strength by joining or supporting any Team.

I have a very simple and cheap solution to root out any type of corruption:

If we are against any minister for his misdeeds or not delivering
goods to the satisfaction of the people, who have democratically
elected that minister, the voters should be given the right also to
deselect or reject that minister.

If such a Public Interest Bill is passed, not only the ministers,
but also all the corrupted public servants will be taken to the tasks.

You will feel that by having this strength, you don't require any other law than the Right to elect and select the candidates for any election and to make it cheaper, we have to just organise a "Signature Campaign" for it.

No worry for expenses towards re-election and the advantage of having a disciplined minister who will have to dance to the tunes of the voters.
ashok sen
10 years ago
why must such reports keep coming in your newsletter,and not in the known dailies of this country/popular news channels?Are we to gauge that the owners of the dailies/popular news channels, all have skeletons in their cupboards.

Is it possible for the government to be pushed to having the CBI investigate this criminal called Chagan Bhujbal.
jagdish
Replied to ashok sen comment 10 years ago
check this is it much more reliable ?

http://in.reuters.com/article/2012/07/27...
Dayananda Kamath k
10 years ago
the wealth of jaganreddy was nown and circulating in internet since long only after he has fallen out with congress his assets are being verified. and it is unfortunate that supreme court has declined the the petitiion for wealth of chandrbabu naidu becase complaint is politically motivated.then every case against politician will be politically motivated and will not be investigated. it is tragedy of the indian people. even the wasting o fpublic money in creating parks in uttarpradesh, disproportionate assetts case against mulayam singh yadav and mayadevi are being used by the congress through selective cbi actions at the time of curcial voting in the parliament. this how our parliament is taking decisions.the elction petitiion of chidambaram is pending for the last 3 years and he is taking all crucial decisions as an important minister when actually validity of his membership of the parliament itself is yet to be decided by judiciary. this is indian democracy.
brian dsilva
10 years ago
It's absolutely disgusting that the government is doing nothing about this and netas like Bhujbal not only get away scot-free but also set an example to other netas
Dr Pankaj Gupta
10 years ago
must read eye opener article.. another meticulous piece by Money life..
Naresh Behl
10 years ago
How helpless we comman man are..!!!! Apne hee apno ko loot rahe hain
J R
10 years ago


less than 2% of Indians pay income tax. and they are hounded by the Income Tax dept. constantly for years/decades making their lives a living hell, giving constant food for corruption @ every level. And there are several thousand goons & politicians who don’t pay a rupee in tax and roaming around like wild animals in a jungle with full freedom & impunity.

since independence, this country has been converted, in many ways, into a living hell on earth for lakhs of people under the farce of democracy. Chinese communism is 100 times better than Indian democracy for its citizens.

no wonder 99.9999% indians who quit india never come back to a land they cant survive & exist in! it is literally a sin to live in india of today that it has been converted into in merely 5 decades from a country of glory for 5000 yrs.!





J S
10 years ago


less than 2% of Indians pay income tax. and they are hounded by the Income Tax dept. constantly for years/decades making their lives a living hell, giving constant food for corruption @ every level.

And there are several thousand goons & politicians who don’t pay a rupee in tax and roaming around like wild animals in a jungle with full freedom & impunity.

since independence, this country has been converted, in many ways, into a living hell on earth for lakhs of people under the farce of democracy. Chinese communism is 100 times better than Indian democracy for its citizens.

no wonder 99.9999% indians who quit india never come back to a land they cant survive & exist in! it is literally a sin to live in india of today that it has been converted into in merely 5 decades from a country of glory for 5000 yrs.!





Veeresh Malik
10 years ago
Great article, basic truths, simply explained as never before. Thanks.

The bigger issue that crops up here is that the scope of sustainability and success of genuine commercial endeavours comes crashing down in the face of such daylight thuggery by those who should be governing us.

That is the really terrible part. And has not been analysed as yet.
Dinesh Chanchalani
10 years ago
What a pathetic state of affairs. Crooks in the garb of leaders!!
TIHARwale
10 years ago
N.Srinivasan is none but BCCI President who should enter TIHAR for FEMA violations and other irregularities in IPL along with fugitive Lalit Modi ( self proclaimed commissioner of scam ridden IPL) . CA Shashank Manohar was a former President of BCCI and close associate of Sharad Pawar.
anantha ramdas
10 years ago
In such an unfortunate situation, the one thing that the government can do is to ensure that the registrar of companies employs an approved list (by an independent body/judiciary) which seeks and obtains every relevant information before issuing the certificate of commencement of operations.

For professional advice, regretably, it is the learned legal experts that make such things happen. Looks like the aam aadmi has nothing to really protect him.

So what does he do? Perhaps he does, what the American biz philosophy is: "if you can't beat them, join them".

It is a sad state of affairs and unless citizens raise the voice, like Ms Sucheta Dalal has pointed out, there appears to be no way way out.
Koduri Srihari Rao
10 years ago
This is why today, a common is unable to find a small piece of land at an affordable price. Can't we do any thing on this?
sohan modak
10 years ago
I believe to have pointed out earlier about the ownership of educational empires by politicians as a tax fraud. Actually, it would be nice to know the size of that operation. Say, 1000 students are paying Rs 2 lakh per year, i.e. 20 crores income annually, and the cost of salaries, infrastructure etc is about 50 lakhs, where does the rest goes? It does so in the name of a research foundation or a charitable Trust. And each Educational empire caters for on an averate 100000 students annually. Most of the times, the input money is partly white and partly black. ny one dares looking into that scam?
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