Religare case: Delhi court dismisses bail plea of ex-CEO Maninder Singh

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New Delhi, Nov 12 (PTI) A Delhi court Thursday dismissed the bail application of former CEO of Religare Enterprises Limited (REL) Maninder Singh in a case related to Rs 2,397 crore being allegedly siphoning off from group firm RFL.

Additional Sessions Judge Sandeep Yadav dismissed the bail plea of Maninder considering the severity and seriousness of the crime allegedly committed by him.

The court noted that as per the investigation, Maninder, in conspiracy with other accused persons, allegedly swindled Rs 2,397 crore and caused wrongful loss to complainant Religare Finvest Ltd (RFL) and wrongful gain to themselves.

“Considering the overwhelming evidence available on record against applicant/accused (Maninder Singh) and severity and seriousness of crime, applicant/accused is not entitled to bail,” the court said in its order.

It said investigation has revealed that Singh, being into key managerial position, allegedly turned blind eye to corporate loan book and kept on siphoning off money to promoter's companies.

As per the police reply, Maninder allegedly flouted all corporate governance norms to extend unsecured loans to promoter's linked entities which was eventually misappropriated/siphoned off, the court noted.

It further said the complainant RFL's counsel was right in submitting that nobody is appointed as group CEO without being close to promoters, Malvinder Singh and his brother Shivinder Singh, who were projected as main offenders in the case.

RFL is a group firm of REL, which was earlier promoted by Malvinder and Shivinder.

The fact that police custody remand of Maninder was not obtained after his arrest would not strengthen his case that further custody was not required as it would depend on various factors, particularly severity of offence, the court said.

“As per police reply, accused is drawing huge salary and benefits in the capacity of Chief Business Officer and group CEO of REL and thus, applicant/accused cannot contend that he is not beneficiary to a single rupee.

'Investigation revealed that accused was holding key managerial position in the organisation and was instrumental in the conspiracy with promoters Malvinder Mohan Singh, Shivinder Mohan Singh, Kavi Arora, CEO and MD of RFL for siphoning of money from complainant company to the tune of Rs 2,000 crores,” it said.

It noted that investigation has further revealed that Maninder was allegedly aware that the entities to whom loans worth hundreds of crores were extended were not credit-worthy but he kept on approving loans since these entities were linked to the promoters.

“Investigation has also revealed that (Maninder) Singh allegedly signed financial statement of RFL in which the alleged fraudulent transactions were not categorised as related party transactions, and hence most of the loans were diverted to M/s RHC Holding Pvt Ltd. (promoter entity).

“It was also revealed during investigation that accused Maninder Singh was involved in sanctioning and disbursal of loans to 13 entities along with co-accused Kavi Arora. Proximity of applicant with promoters is evident from the fact that as soon as promoters came on board, applicant was brought into the organisation and transfer of funds was facilitated along with Arora in other companies of promoters,” the court said.

During the hearing, advocate Tanveer Ahmed Mir, appearing for Maninder, said there was no new evidence to justify his arrest in October, after ten months from filing of the charge sheet in January.

Mir further said after Maninder's arrest, police custody was not obtained by the police and therefore his custodial interrogation and further judicial custody was not required.

He further claimed that Maninder was not part of any conspiracy to swindle RFL's money and had no role to play in the day to day functioning of REL.

Additional Public Prosecutor L D Singh, appearing for the police, opposed the bail saying Maninder was allegedly part of the decision making process who granted loans to 13 companies.

Senior advocate Mohit Mathur, appearing for RFL, contended that Maninder was the Chief Business Officer and hence cannot distance himself from the entire fraud.

Maninder was arrested on October 27 in the case. Former Fortis Healthcare promoters Malvinder and his brother Shivinder, former CMD of Religare Enterprises Ltd (REL) Sunil Godhwani, Arora and Anil Saxena were arrested in the case by the Economic Offences Wing (EOW) of Delhi Police last year, for allegedly diverting RFL's money and investing in other companies.

The EOW registered an FIR in March last year after it received a complaint from RFL's Manpreet Suri against Shivinder, Godhwani and others, alleging that loans were taken by them while managing the firm but the money was invested in other companies. ED lodged a money laundering case based on this. PTI URD SA