The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has filed another FIR against Mumbai-based telecom infrastructure company GTL Infrastructure Ltd, on charges of misappropriating credit facilities to the tune of ₹4,063 crore availed from a consortium of banks. This is the second FIR the CBI has registered against GTL. In January, the probe agency had accused the company directors of defrauding banks of ₹4,500 crore.
GTL, owned by Manor Tirodkar, is engaged in business of building, operation and maintenance of passive telecom infrastructure sites capable of hosting multiple service providers. It is also facing a money laundering probe from the Enforcement Directorate (ED).
The CBI FIR registered on August 16 said the company in 2011 expressed its inability to pay back interests/instalments on the credit facilities availed by it from various banks and financial institutions. The consortium of 19 banks invoked strategic debt restructuring in 2016 after the corporate debt restructuring did not materialise for the company. During the two restructuring, of the total outstanding loan of ₹11,263 crore, debt of ₹7,200 crore was converted into equity shares leaving the outstanding amount at ₹4,063 crore which was payable by GTIL to consortium of banks, the FIR said.
Dues to banks
Forensic audit has revealed that a substantial amount of funds given to vendors by GTIL were invested in European Projects and Aviation Ltd (EPAL) or GTIL or Chennai Network Infrastructure Ltd, a sister concern of GTIL, during the same period of giving advance from 2011-12 to 2013-14, the CBI FIR said. Of the consortium of banks, maximum dues were from Union Bank of India which was to the tune of ₹488.43 crore, followed by Central Bank of India at ₹4,68.72 crore and the minimum was from Oriental Bank of Commerce of ₹207.14 crore.
To recoup the amount, as per the CBI, the banks discussed selling of debts of ₹4,063.31 crore to Edelweiss Asset Reconstruction Company but Canara Bank vetoed it on the grounds that no fresh valuation of mortgage was done to justify the offer of ₹2,354 crore by EARC when the total depreciated value of the plant and equipment of GTIL as on March 31, 2018, was ₹7,944.50 crore. The balance sheet also showed that the company had 27,729 telecom towers with useful life of 35 years and were valued at ₹10,330 crore, it stated.
Assignment of debt
The CBI FIR pointed out that despite objection from Canara Bank and other members of consortium bank, 79.3 per cent of the outstanding dues amounting to ₹3,224 crore was assigned to EARC by 13 banks such UBI, Bank of Baroda, ICICI Bank and Punjab National Bank for a consideration of about ₹1,867 crore, causing huge wrongful loss to banks.
At the time of assignment of debt to EARC more than five years ago, the banks were holding 64.97 per cent of equity of company comprising 1212.17 crore shares, the investigating agency said. The promoters were holding 19.52 per cent of equity. “Despite that the banks did not choose to sell their equity in block deal or to adopt the procedure under SARFAESI Act to secure their loan from the collateral securities, i.e. plant and machinery, having depreciated value of about ₹7,944.50 crore and instead, with malafide intention adopted the ARC route thereby causing huge wrongful loss to themselves,” the CBI charged.