Saturday, October 24, 2009

another RIL scam of epic proportions

On March 19, 2003, Reliance Gas Transportation Infrastructure Ltd (RGTIL) was formed as a subsidiary of Reliance Industries for transportation of gas extracted from RIL's gas fields in KG Basin. On August 18, 2004, RGTIL while it was still a 100 % subsidiary of RIL was granted approval by the petroleum ministry to transport 80 million units of gas per day from Kakinada to Bharuch, passing through four states - AP, Karanataka, Maharashtra and Gujarat.

On April 21, RIL chairman Mukesh Ambani quietly without any disclosure stripped RGTIL from RIL and converted it into his personal property at a meagre price of just Rs 5 lakhs. Through a maze of private companies owned by Mukesh Ambani namely Lordwest Invest & Trading, Shangrila Invest & Trading, Proline Invest, Jigna Fiscal, Vayudoot Invest & Trading, Yashasvi Holding and Anumati Mercantile, he now controlled 100 per cent of what was till then a 100 % subsidiary of RIL. It was a classic manoeuvre.

All the above companies have Reliance employees as directors. Their registered office addresses are also the same as the other companies (promoters and persons acting in concert of RIL). The registered office address of these individuals are 84A Mittal Court, 505 Dalamal House, 147 Atlanta; all known Reliance Group offices in Mumbai's Nariman Point area.

This year, the Union Budget presented in July inserted a new section 35D in the Income Tax Act, 1961 which allows 100 % of capital expenditure incurred on setting up and operating natural gas or crude oil pipeline network as 100 % tax deduction in the very first year. Capital expenditure is never allowed as revenue expenditure in the first year. The beneficiary of this scam is none other than Mukesh Ambani who has once again twisted the law to suit himself. Sum total accruing to Mukesh Ambani is Rs 20,000 crore.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

mukesh ambani's ever growing media empire


Unobtrusively, the Indian media sweepstakes are changing hue. There is a new media magnate in town and his name is Mukesh Ambani. One of the learnings transposed from the battle with his younger brother Anil was that media had to be controlled. Younger brother Anil used the media to his advantage in the battle for the Ambani inheritance. Slowly and steadily Mukesh Ambani’s gigantic footprint is now visible in the electronic news media. And the planning has been systematic and calibrated. A classical waterfall structure has been used to hide the identity of the real owner through a maze of companies, cross holdings and complex transactions. But a paper trail following the annual returns filed by various involved companies reveals the true identity of Mukesh Ambani. He has managed to systematically carve a wide swathe over the electronic news world. All the operations have been conducted in Ambani’s trademark shadowy manner. With a silent signature using a maze of privately owned companies with bizarre names.


Let us look at one of the largest benami owned media empires in India and its architecture. By investing Rs 76 crore in Rajeev Shukla/ Anuradha Prasad owned BAG group companies, Mukesh Ambani has a major presence in TV news channels – News 24, E 24, Dhamal 24 etc. As always a web of disparate and obscure companies which own High Growth Distributors have invested Rs 76 crore to acquire 12 per cent in BAG Films & Media Ltd, 15 per cent in BAG Newsline Network Ltd and 15 per cent in BAG Glamour Ltd.. The clutch of private companies which owns High Growth Distributors are Reliance Commercial Holdings Pvt Ltd, Reliance Investment Enterprises Pvt Ltd, Reliance Explorations Pvt Ltd, Kudrat Investment & Leasing Pvt Ltd, Saumya Finance & leasing Co Pvt Ltd, Ornate Traders Pvt Ltd, Xanti Commercial Pvt Ltd, Tiara Comtrade Pvt Ltd, Hitech Dealers Pvt Ltd and Legal Outsourcing Pvt Ltd.

The Fourth Annual Report (2007-08) of High Growth Distributors Pvt Ltd shows that it has made Long Term Investments in unquoted equity shares fully paid of Hitech Dealers Pvt Ltd, Legal Outsourcing Pvt Ltd, Sarvasiddhi Commercials Pvt Ltd, Xanti Commercial Pvt Ltd and Tiara Comtrade Pvt Ltd. That is not as important as its other investments in equity shares quoted fully paid up in BAG Film Ltd amounting to Rs 26.15 crore, BAG Glamour Pvt Ltd Rs 24.99 crore and BAG Newsline amounting to Rs 24.99 crore. All told High Growth’s investments in BAG Group companies thus comes to Rs 76.15 crore.

The NSE shareholding filing of BAG Films and Media Ltd as of December 31, 2008 clearly states that High Growth Distributors Pvt Ltd owns 13078000 shares amounting to 11.59 per cent of the company. Similarly the Annual Return (Registration No 162904) filed by BAG Newsline Network Pvt Ltd clearly shows that High Growth Distributors Pvt Ltd owns 2571428 shares in the company. The Annual return of BAG Glamour Pvt Ltd (Registration No 160548) similarly shows that High Growth Distributors Pvt Ltd owns 2571428 shares in the company.

So, who owns High Growth Distributors Pvt Ltd with its Registered Office at 26, Chittranjan Avenue, Kolkata 700012? Legal Outsourcing Pvt Ltd Fourth Annual Report 2007-08 also states that its Registered Office is 26 Chittranjan Avenue, Kolkata 700012. This in turn has investments in Hitech Dealers Pvt Ltd, High Growth Distributors Pvt Ltd, Sarvasiddhi Commercials Pvt Ltd, Xanti Commercial Pvt Ltd and Tiara Comtrade Pvt Ltd. Hitech Dealers is also showing the same address for its Registered Office. And this company too has investments in several of the above mentioned companies. All these companies incidentally have a common auditor - chartered accountant firm in D Dokania and Co.

Xanti Commercial Pvt Ltd has its Registered Office in 84 A Mittal Court, 8th Floor, 224 , Nariman Point, Mumbai 400021 and their auditors are Joy Dalia & Co Xanti’s long term investments are in a wide variety of companies including Reliance Consolidated Pvt Ltd, Reliance Enterprises Holding Pvt Ltd, Reliance Extrusions Pvt Ltd, Reliance Gas Pvt Ltd, Reliance Group Holding, Reliance Group Enterprises, Reliance Group Investments and Holding, Reliance Industries Holding, Reliance Industries Investments and Holding, Reliance Investment and Trading, Reliance Investment Holding, Relogistics Infrastructure, Relogistics based in Pune, Delhi, Rajasthan, Jamshedpur and many more. A usual suspect Tiara Comtrade also pops up in this list. Then the tell tale signs surface.

In the list of related parties with whom transactions have taken place in the past and relationships exist are familiar names – High Growth Distributors and Hitech Dealers. Tiara Comtrade has a similar history. Among its long term investments are listed Reliance Integrated Agrisolutions previously known as Urja Trading, all the Relogistics companies and myriad other names which leave little to imagination. The list of related parties with whom transactions have taken place and relationship exists include High Growth Distributors and Hitech Dealers. Tiara Comtrade’s registered office is the same as Xanti Commercial’s. One of the directors is common – Shailesh Solanki and the majority of the investments are common too. The annual returns of Xanti and Tiara show the funding received from the private companies of Mukesh Ambani through debentures.


BAG Group of Companies is only one of several outfits controlled by Mukesh Ambani through a web of transactions. Take India TV of Independent News Services. Mukesh Ambani Group through Reliance Chemicals Pvt Ltd, a 100 per cent subsidiary of Reliance Industries (Rs 100 cr); Reliance Ventures Pvt Ltd, another RIL 100 per cent subsidiary (Rs 20.20 cr) and Limca Commercials Rs 24 cr(private company owned by Mukesh Ambani) has invested Rs 145 crore in Shyam Equities Pvt Ltd, All told he has acquired 70,25,765 shares of Rs 10 each for an astounding premium of 1323 per cent.

Tally Solutions jointly controlled by Mukesh Ambani group and Bharat Goenka has Anand Jain and Manoj Modi on its board. Both are well known confidants of Mukesh Ambani. Shyam Equities Pvt Ltd is a 100 per cent subsidiary of Tally. It is a shell company, Tally has actually invested Rs 1.80 lakh only in Shyam. Shyam Equities owns 23 per cent in Independent News Services Pvt Ltd which owns India TV. The Annual Return of Tally Solutions Pvt Ltd 2007-08 registration number 08-12483 clearly shows that Bharat Goenka, his wife Sheela Goenka, Anand Jaikumar Jain and Manoj Harjivandas Modi are directors. The Director’s Report of Tally reveals that it had three subsidiaries including Shyam Equities Pvt Ltd in which it has invested a paltry Rs 179,990. However, the balance sheet audited by Deloitte Haskins & Sells for Shyam Equities Pvt Ltd shows that under the unsecured loans head – Digivision DTH Services, Limca Commercials, Reliance Chemical and Reliance Ventures have forwarded as much as Rs 1,642,028,000 establishing Mukesh Ambani group’s clear cut complicity.

Reliance Industries Ltd’s Annual report page 149 for FY 2007-08 lists Reliance Ventures Ltd as a subsidiary of RIL. Moreover, Reliance Chemicals is shown as a subsidiary under RIL’s disclosure dated October 3, 2008 to the Bombay Stock Exchange. The annual return filed by Limca Commercials Pvt Ltd clearly shows that all the shareholders of Limca have their address at 84A Mittal Court, Nariman Point, Mumbai, the home for all the promoter and privately owned companies of RIL. Yes, this is the same address of Xanti Commercial and Tiara Comtrade which have invested in BAG Films through the waterfall structure route. Finally the Shyam Equities balance sheet seals the deal where under the investments head, it shows that it has made an investment in Independent News Services Pvt Ltd buying 70,25,765 shares of Rs 100 each at premium of Rs 42.33 per share fully paid up valued at cost.


The most recent foray into news media is actually a consolidation of his earlier investments. For long there has been talk that Mukesh Ambani was an investor in the beleaguered INX Media, but there was nothing to substantiate it. Earlier this year, Vinay Chajlani and Jehangir Pocha formed Indi Media to acquire INX News from INX Media. Media industry pegged the size of the deal to roughly Rs 50 crore. That was the official version. The real version is that Vinay Chajlani Group also owns Suvi Info Management and its 100 per cent subsidiary Nai Duniya News and Network Pvt Ltd. By virtue of this, Chajlani also owns Nai Duniya newspapers.

The Annual Returns of Suvi Info Management (Indore) Pvt Ltd (registration number 018339) shows Vinay Chajlani and Sunita Chajlani as shareholders and directors of the company. Importantly, the balance sheet of Suvi Info under schedule C investments shows 6734700 equity shares were owned in Nai Dunia News and Network Pvt Ltd at Rs 57.50 per share amounting to Rs 387245300 or Rs 38 crore.

Mukesh Ambani Group has funded Vinay Chajlani Group investing Rs 38 crore in Suvi Info through Aarthik Commercials Pvt Ltd. Aarthik Commercials is a private company owned by Mukesh Ambani, as always through a web of front companies namely Reliance Petromarketing Infrastructure, Jamnagar Kandla Pipeline Co, Agni Fuels, Avalanche Fuels, Jubilant Autofuels Trading, Steadfast Fuel Trading. All these private companies once again throw up the same name – Reliance Industries. Schedule B of Suvi Info’s balance sheet 2006-07 shows an unsecured loan given by Aarthik Commercials amounting to Rs 38 crore. The Annual Returns filed by Aarthik Commercials, 307 Parekh Market, 3rd Floor, 39, Jagannath Shankar Seth Road, Opra House, Mumbai list all the names given above. Each of these entities Jubilant, Avalanche, Agni, Reliance Petromarketing, Steadfast Fuel and Jamnagar Kandla own 10,000 shares between them in the company. And the address for all these entities a dead giveaway – Ground Floor, Chitrakoot, Shreeram Mills Compound, Gantpatrao Kadam Marg, Worli, Mumbai 400013, a known RIL establisment.

In many ways, Mukesh Ambani has tried very hard to conceal his identity. While the RIL promoter has stuck to his theme of compartmentalizing one investment from the other, the paper trail leaves no doubt in anyone’s mind. When one connects the dots, it is evident that Mukesh Ambani wants to control media by making strategic investments in the electronic media. The investments are extremely strategic – an English news channel News X, a Hindi news channel – India TV which caters to the lowest common sensibilities and another Hindi news and Bollywood channel – BAG Group. Finally there is the big investment in a slew of regional channels (see Box).


The mother of all his investments in the media sector is the one in Eenadu newspaper and ETV Network which controls and owns ETV Telugu, Bangla, Bihar, Gujarati, Kannada, Madhya Pradesh, Marathi, Oriya, Rajasthan, Urdu, Uttar Pradesh, ETV 2 (Telugu news channel). This gives Mukesh Ambani complete control of the regional mind space. This investment unlike the others is extremely controversial. Overall, Mukesh Ambani using his oft repeated stratagem has invested Rs 1500 crore in Ushoday Enterprises by acquiring 26930 shares of Rs 100 each at a premium of 528,630 per cent.

When Blackstone Group invested $275 million in Ushoday Enterprises, a virtual tug of war broke out between Ramoji Rao owner of Eenadu and Ushoday on the one hand and late state chief minister Y Rajshekhara Reddy. The late Reddy winged in a spanner saying that Rao could not use the proceeds to pay embattled sister company Margadarsi Financiers. This ultimately resulted in Blackstone having to pull out, such was the ferocity of the opposition. This is when JM Financial promoter Nimesh Kampani arrived as a white knight and made the acquisition on behalf of Mukesh Ambani. Then Kampani himself got entrapped in a case and was reportedly hiding in Dubai.

So how did Kampani front for Reliance Industries? Well he constructed Equator and Altitude to hoodwink the law. But the long arm of the law caught up with him. Reliance Industrial Investment & Holdings (RIIHL) is a 100 percent subsidiary of Reliance Industries. RIIHL is the vehicle through which 10.47 crore (6.66 percent) treasury shares of RIL were held. The RIL Annual Report 2007-08 shows RIIHL as a 100 percent subsidiary. The shareholding pattern of RIL for December 2008 shows the shareholding of the Petroleum Trust. The Petroleum Trust through the Trustees for the sole beneficiary – Ms RIIHL owning 6.66 percent. Since then Mukesh Ambani has extinguished the treasury stock through a buy back which left analysts in a tizzy.

Now RIIHL held the treasury stock through the Petroleum Trust and Nimesh Kampani was the Trustee of the Petroleum Trust. The scheme of Merger of reliance Petroleum Ltd and reliance Industries Ltd of 2002 – page no 166 – shows the provisions of the Trust created for five years. On December 9, 2004, Business Standard reported that Petroleum Trust was not part of the promoter holding in RIL. BS wrote, “Following the amalgamation of Reliance Petroleum with RIL, the shares of RIL were allotted to the trust. RIIHL, being a 100 percent subsidiary of RIL could not hold the shares of the parent company under law. So, the Petroleum Trust was created to house the newly created shares of RIL after the merger. But since the property belonged to RIIHL, it was named the ‘sole beneficiary’implying that all the financial benefits arising out of the ownership of RIL shares would flow to RIIHL.”

When the merger was announced in April 2002, it was stated by then RIL MD Anil Ambani that 12.2 percent (7.5 percent then held by the Trust and 4.7 percent held by RIL associate companies) would be sold to strategic investors, financial institutions or overseas via ADRs or GDRs in five years. The two trustees of the Trust were Nimesh Kampani and Vishnubhai B Haribhakti. But the BSE continues to show the Trust holding as part of promoter holding.

RIIHL formerly known as Trishna Investments and Leasings in turn controls 100 percent equity of Shinano Retail Pvt Ltd. Shinano is held by way of two inter woven and inter linked companies both held under inter se and RIIHL. Once again the leads are provided by the Annual Returns of Shinano Retail (registration no 176418) which held its first AGM as recently as September 22, 2008. The Annexure to clause V of the Companies Act 1956 details that RIIHL (Maker Chambers IV, 222 Nariman Point) and Teesta Retail (Chitrakoot, Shreeram Mills Compound, Worli) held 5000 shares each in the entity as of 22.9.08. Further, these shares were transferred in the names of RIIHL and Teesta by Reliance Elastomers and Reliance Industrial Enterprises respectively on 28.1.08. The same held good for Teesta Retail as well where RIIHL and Shinano Retail held 5000 shares each and the modus operandi was the same as these shares were transferred by Reliance Elastomers and Reliance Industrial Enterprises.

Now comes the classic RIL twist in the tale. Obfuscation being the core value, Shinano has funded Kavindra Commercials with Rs 1054 crore and an additional Rs 952 crore was given to Devki Commercials through convertible loans. Once again, operating through a maze of transactions, both Kavindra and Devki are held inter se and also through inter woven companies namely Teesta and Shinano, accordingly fully held by RIL through its subsidiary. Form 18 of Kavindra and Annual Return dated 26.9.08 of Devki clearly show their addresses as 84A Mittal Court, Nariman Point which are addresses of other Reliance owned entities used to make investments in media companies. Interestingly, schedule I, point number 8 in Annual report of RIIHL (wholly owned subsidiary of RIL) shows Shinano and Teesta as Associate companies from January 28, 2008.

The trail gets stronger when one gets to the balance sheet of Shinano for 2007-08 where schedule D, point number 5 in the notes to accounts shows loan of Rs 1054 crore from Shinano. Similarly the balance sheet of Devki for 2007-08 schedule B, point number 5 in notes to accounts shows loan of Rs 952 crore. Shinano lent an aggregate amount of Rs 2006 crore. Of this Rs 1054 crore is given to Kavindra and Rs 952 crore to Devki. The Annual Returns of Kavindra and Devki show the inter woven shareholding along with Shinano and Teesta.

It is here that Nimesh Kampani is rewarded for his loyalty by Mukesh Ambani. Remember that Kampani was the valuer during the family settlement between the two brothers presided over by the mother. Kavindra then diverted Rs 1054 crore received from Shinano to Altitude Mercantile and Equator Trading through debentures. Now the case gets curiouser. Altitude and Equator are owned privately by Nimesh Kampani. The balance sheet of Kavindra for the year 2007-08, schedule C shows investment of Rs 99.99 crore in debentures of Altitude and investment of Rs 954 crore in debentures of Equator. Devki did likewise, a mirror image of the transaction where it diverted rs 952 crore received from Shinano to Altitude and Equator through debentures. The balance sheet of Devki 2007-08 schedule C shows investment of Rs 100.49 crore in debentures of Altitude and investment of Rs 850 crore in debentures of Equator.

Form 2 filed by Equator Trading Enterprises shows allotment of 1,999,900,000 shares to Altitude Mercantile with 141, Maker Chambers 111, Nariman Point on January 30, 2008, making it a subsidiary. Similarly Form 18 and 32 of Altitude and Equator shows a common address as are the directors on the boards of the company. The crucial link then is Form 2 dated 29.1.2008 filed with the Registrar of Companies by Altitude which shows Kampani Properties and Holdings Ltd (holding 40 percent of the equity) and JM Assets Management holding 15 percent of the equity.

Altitude has used Rs 200 crores received from Kavindra and Devki to acquire equity shares of Equator. Altitude is having a paid up share capital of only Rs 1 crore. Form 2 filed with RoC shows shares allotted to Altitude. If your head is spinning with these names, then the objective has been achieved, for this veritable maze has been deliberately created to confuse the trackers. Equator then used Rs 1424 crores received from Devki and Kavindra to acquire 26,930 equity shares of Rs 100 each at a premium of Rs 528,630 per share of Ushodaya. Once again the paper trail gives the evidence. Since government of India makes it mandatory to make these filings, all this is recorded for posterity.

Form 2 dated 30.1.2008 filed by Ushodaya with RoC shows shares allotted to Equator and premium of Rs 528,630 per share paid. Media reports surface dated 2.2.2008 and 13.2. 2008 on investment in Eenadu Group by private companies of Nimesh Kampani. Ushodaya is the holding company of media baron Ramoji Rao who is the owner of Eenadu Group. Prior to the deal with Kampani, he owned 99.86 percent of Ushodaya.

Now with chief minister YS Reddy having died in an untimely helicopter crash, the decks have been cleared for Kampani’s return to India.

The moot point is that Mukesh Ambani’s octopus like tentacles across the media vector have not been understood by the common man. By enveloping Eenadu, he got a major foothold in the powerful regional media which was important for his retail plans at that point in time. He has also been fighting a legal battle with his brother on KG Basin gas and print and television mouthpieces would only add to his clout to spread disinformation. The idea at all times being to control without coming to the fore. By using his enormous financial clout he has managed to grab several entities. The question is whether they are the right vehicles in this age of fragmented and diffused media.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

long winded DGH advert of no consequence

DGH V K Sibal is showing unnecessary aggression for a man caught in a cleft stick. I guess he is opting for the old tactic of attack being the best defence. Seeking an extension, Sibal who is battling favouritism and corruption charges is in the dock for helping Reliance Industries gold plate its KG D 6 capex development plan. By putting out a full page advertisement in the national dailies, he is burning a hole in tax payers money. The advert comes a day after the Central Vigilance Commissioner asked the CBI to probe allegations of favours received by the oil regulator from RIL for approving a near four fold hike in the oil field development plan.

This comes quickly on the heels of a Pioneer expose on the nexus between Sibal and RIL and charges of Sibal's daughters enjoying the hospitality of RIL in Mumbai. Sibal when contacted by Pioneer in his usual bluster did not deny that his daughters had stayed in RIL guest houses while studying and working in the city. But as a government regulator in an age of austerity, this nexus is going to cost Sibal dearly. Talk in the capital is that Sibal will not get an extension after October 31 and the feeble attempts at putting out an advertisement in the press don't count at this stage.

We wonder whether the oil minister Murli Deora approved this insertion by the DGH and whether L N Gupta, CVO in the oil ministry knew of this advertisement. Austerity be damned as the independent republic of oil ministry continues in its merry ways.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

sibal - mr crony capitalism

The Pioneer's investigation on Thursday on the nexus between RIL and DGH VK Sibal has once again exposed the allegations of crony capitalism in India's bureaucracy. What is perhaps more intriguing is Sibal's reaction to the expose where he brazens it out by saying - so what?

Here is the Pioneer lead story. Judge for yourself:

CVC examining use of RIL facilities by DG Hydrocarbon’s daughters Caesar’s wife must be above suspicion”: The famous saying holds relevance even today, particularly for those who are in public service. But, some just don’t care. VK Sibal, the Director General Hydrocarbons whose extension of tenure is under CVC scanner, is suspected to have taken favours for his daughters — Priya and Sonia Sibal — from Reliance Industries Limited (RIL), the company whose capital expenditure plan for KG Basin was increased from $2.4 billion to $8.8 billion in 2006. Sibal had given the approval for this. In this connection, Sibal had raised a controversy when he declared that, in 2005-06, CAG had approved the capital expenditure of KG D6 fields, a claim the CAG denied stating that no such approval had been accorded.Sibal is to end his tenure on October 31, 2009. But the Minister of Petroleum has recommended two-year extension for him, which needs clearance from the CVC. However, the CVC is in a fix following complaints of Sibal’s proximity with several business contractors whose project clearances were accorded by him.Even while RIL’s request for increasing capex for KG basin was pending before Sibal, the information with The Pioneer indicates that Sibal’s daughters used posh RIL guesthouses in Mumbai extensively for four-five months.As Director General Hydrocarbons, Sibal would not have faced any problem in arranging a guesthouse for his daughters in Mumbai, as all public sector oil companies, including ONGC, IOC and GAIL, have such facilities in the metropolis. But his choice for RIL’s guesthouse raises eyebrows, as it is inappropriate to accept favours from a contractor, who is coming for sanction of his projects.Sonia Sibal stayed at a VIP guesthouse of RIL — Dalal House — from July to November 2005. Dalal House is said to be the erstwhile residence of Nita Ambani. In November same year, Sibal's another daughter Priya Sibal also stayed at Dalal House. Later, from April to July 2006, Priya stayed at another guesthouse of RIL —Trivoli Guest House — at Hiranandani in Mumbai.According to sources, the CVC is also looking into the ‘relationship’ between Sibal and RIL, especially when hands off distance should have been maintained.The matter does not end here. Later, Priya moved out of RIL’s guesthouse and shifted to a spacious 3BHK flat in Avalon at Hiranandani Gardens, Powai. But, the host still remained the same. This is how: RIL acquired a small firm called Whitesnow Trading Private Limited in May 2008 and the flat was bought in the name of Whitesnow in the same month.Whitesnow Trading Private Limited was incorporated in March 2006 by Vijay Dargar and Reena Dargar. After RIL’s acquisition in May, officials of RIL — Nilesh M Mehta and Deepa Sangani —were appointed directors of Whitesnow.Priya's stay in this flat can be proved from the fact that Whitesnow, in a letter dated June 7, 2006, wrote to the apartment asking them "to issue club house ID card to Priya and her family". The demands made by Priya in her e-mail on July 17, 2006 included an LG television and refrigerator and Whirlpool washing machine.The guest was so important for RIL that top notch officials of the company "personally" took care of making her stay comfortable. The supervision of furnishing, furniture and installation of white goods worth Rs 6.5 lakh in the flat was "personally" was done by president of RIL's Oil and Gas Division PMS Prasad and chief financial controller LV Merchant. They approved these expenses also.Sibal has been continuously saying that his relationship with RIL is "only official". These words even found resonance in his reply to Director (Vigilance) Maninder Singh in December 14, 2007. Do these personal care accorded by RIL officials signify the relation being official in any way, as claimed by Sibal?It's altogether a different matter that Priya moved from Avalon after 18 months of stay to another flat in Oshimara, Andheri West, purchased at a cost of Rs 1.7 crore. But for Sibal, the practice of taking favours from contractors seems natural. Unethical it might be, but Sibal continues to avail favours from his contractors. His present residence in Noida is rented to him by a company called Ambience Exim Private Limited. Sibal might like to call this a coincidence, but this company "secured oil and gas block in the Government of India's auction process".VK Sibal: I didn’t favour RIL in exchange.

The Pioneer sought VK Sibal’s response with regard to the allegations. This is his response:“My daughter, Priya was staying in various locations in Mumbai since the year 2001. She was staying in a private accommodation in Kalina, Mumbai, in the year 2005. However, during the floods in Mumbai, the area she was staying got flooded due to which she went missing for 2 days and had to shift to an apartment located on higher grounds for a few days as a stop-gap emergency measure.My daughter Sonia was studying in the Institute of Hotel Management, Aurangabad, during the period 2004-07 and was staying in a hostel.My daughter Priya had a lease agreement with the party for the flat in Hiranandani referred by you for which advance was also paid. An amount of Rs 3 lakh and utility charges of Rs 3,000 per month was paid. She stayed off and on with her friend in the same accommodation. Necessary documentary evidence in support of this is available with us. Notwithstanding the fact that this is a bonafide arrangement, it is surprising that you should allege that favours have been taken from RIL. If these allegations were true, there would not have been any need to pay the advance or the utility charges to the owner. Contrary to your allegation that favors were taken from RIL, a penalty was imposed on RIL during the period October-November 2006 amounting to approximately Rs 89 crore against unfinished work programme in their petroleum exploration acreages, details of which are available with us.I do not understand as to why you should link purely official responsibilities with bonafide personal dealings. I am sure that you can understand the hidden agenda of the people behind these allegations and propaganda. The story has been circulated among the media surreptitiously by vested interests. It is surprising that a well-known newspaper should fall prey to the machinations of a vested interest. Despite the above clarifications, if you still want to publish the story, it will be even more obvious that a section of the media has been pressurised or influenced by an interested party.”

Monday, September 14, 2009

ril's task getting onerous

The waters are getting muddier and muddier for Reliance Industries. In the run up to the SC hearings on the Ambani gas opera beginning from October 20 on Monday, Anil Ambani group firm RNRL fired a fresh salvo seeking to intervene in the NTPC-RIL gas dispute in the Supreme Court (SC), saying the issues raised by the power PSU directly affected its own case against the Mukesh Ambani-led firm. In an intervention application filed with the apex court, RNRL said that RIL's argument, placed by way of an amendment to its written statements in NTPC suit, is an issue in the SLP (special leave petition) filed by RIL in the Supreme Court in the RIL-RNRL matter.

"It is submitted that the issues that arise in the case filed by NTPC in the Supreme Court directly affect its (RNRL's) case against Reliance Industries," RNRL said, adding it was therefore necessary that it was permitted to be impleaded as a party in the NTPC-RIL case. It is clear that RNRL is now using the NTPC intervention as a rump to further its own case. It needs to be mentioned that the basic premise of RNRL's $2.34 per million unit for 17 years is NTPC's gas supply contract with RIL for a similar price and tenure. The same has been validated by the Bombay High Court in its judgment of June 15.

NTPC moved the Supreme Court on September 5, challenging a Bombay High Court decision that allowed RIL to amend its petition on the gas dispute citing the government's pricing policy. A Division Bench of the High Court had allowed amendment in the petition wherein RIL had prayed that the government's gas pricing policy would frustrate its contract with NTPC.

NTPC had moved the Bombay High Court seeking 12 million units of gas from RIL, which had emerged winner in a global competitive bid quoting a price of $2.34 per million unit. RIl has challenged the Bombay High Court verdict in favour of RNRL in the SC.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

ril's illegal levy

Reliance Industries is increasingly getting boxed in. Between NTPC and RNRL's pincer moves, RIL has no room to manoeuvre. Its only fall back being that the cases are pending in SC. NTPC's devastating critique of RIL's malafide intent in not providing gas despite having signed a gas supply agreement has now been followed up by RNRL's attck on RIL charging unauthorised marketing margins.

This is resulting in a potential loss of Rs 10,000 crore to the government in the form of subsidies to power and fertiliser firms. RNRL latest charge is,"RIL's illegal levy of marketing margin is a double whammy. On the one hand the government is denied its lawful share of the additional sales realisation generated by RIL through this levy; and on the other hand the government also has to eventually pay for this additional burden in the form of enhanced subsidy for the fertiliser and power sectors. A shocking case of illegal transfer of over Rs 10,000 crore from government coffers to RIL."

RIL is charging unauthorised marketing margin of 13.5 cents (Rs 6.6) per million unit on the sale of D6 block in KG Basin. The government meanwhile is moving towards protecting its interests in KG Basin gas by giving priority to state owned petrochemical plants and refineries over RIL's downstream facilities. RIL has demanded 20 million units of gas for captive requirement. The government will consider RIL's request only when the allocation of next 40 million units per day is considered.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

family demerger incomplete as ril plays truant

With RNRL replying to the RIL SLP with a fresh affidavit in the SC, the rules of battle when the court begins its hearing have been spelt out. RNRL has made a very important observation in its fresh affidavit. It says that the supply of gas by RIL to RNRL is an integral part of the demerger of the family business. It also says that that the production sharing contract between RIL and the government gave the former freedom to price and market the gas.

By not giving the gas to RNRL, RNRL is now clearly taking the position that the demerger of the family business remains incomplete and it is well within the purview of the apex court to ensure that this process is completed rapidly. The affidavit filed by RNRL counsel Mahesh Aggarwal has thus raised important questions of the sanctity and legality of the family business demerger.

The affidavit says, "The scheme contemplates that suitable arrangement to be put in place for supply of gas. Until and unless a suitable arrangement is executed, the scheme is not fully implemented and the demerger of the business is not complete." By raising a fundamental question on the validity of the family demerger, RNRL is now asking the SC to enforce its closure. The scheme of demerger has been ratified by the board of RIL of which Mukesh Ambani is chairman, its shareholders and of course the Bombay High Court and yet Mukesh Ambani continues to play truant with the gas supply.

The affidavit also goes on to say that the RIL-RNRL agreement for supply of gas does not affect the government's gas utilisation policy - under the PSC, the supply of gas is not subject to any gas utilisation policy. The petitioners - RIL and the oil ministry - are seeking to misinterpret the terms of the PSC to suggest that any sale of gas has to be in accordance with the gas utilisation policy. Brace yourself for some exciting hearings in the SC.