NCR builders bag loans us­ing dummy...

DNA (Daily News & Analysis) Mumbai Edition - - FRONT PAGE -

Banks give loans to builders at an av­er­age in­ter­est rate of 14-18 per cent, while pri­vate eq­uity fund­ing charges 20-25 per cent. Hence, builders had re­sorted to the fraud­u­lent prac­tice of us­ing ‘ghost’ home-buy­ers to get loans on their be­half, promis­ing them a percentage of the dis­bursed amount and as­sur­ing that EMIs will be taken care of.

“There are 70-80 vic­tims like me in the same project of JSS Build­con,” Mo­hit re­vealed. Ritesh Sharma, another ‘ghost’ buyer, claimed: “Al­most all builders in­dulge in such loan-pack­ag­ing fraud”.

Around 95 builders, in­clud­ing Am­ra­pali, ATS, Su­pertech, Shubhkamna, JSS Build­con, Unitech and Omaxe were on Greater Noida Author­ity’s de­faulter list as on July 2017. Sources said that most builders had used ghost buy­ers. Sharma said, “Let’s au­dit the fi­nances of each and every project, and es­pe­cially those who de­faulted with the au­thor­i­ties”.

Vice-chair­man of Na­tional Real Es­tate De­vel­op­ment Coun­cil Parveen Jain, said, “If ghost buyer thing is go­ing on, then a proper ver­i­fi­ca­tion pro­ce­dure should be in place so that this thing does not hap­pen. In to­day’s sce­nario, it seems very dif­fi­cult for such a thing to hap­pen be­cause of fool-proof iden­tity sys­tems pre­vail­ing… un­til and un­less the par­ties in­volved are hand-in-glove. Also, the ghost buy­ers should not fall for this be­cause if the de­vel­oper aban­dons them mid­way, the ul­ti­mate suf­fer­ers shall be the ghost buy­ers them­selves.”

CREDAI re­frained from com­ment­ing. To queries sent by DNA, it said, “We fol­low eth­i­cal prac­tices, there­fore com­ment­ing on such topic is out of the ques­tion.”

ATS Group’s CMD Ge­tam­ber Anand told DNA: “It is im­por­tant for all in­vestors in real es­tate to un­der­stand that the mar­ket is cycli­cal and wher­ever they have in­vested and the projects are com­plete, there is no rea­son to worry be­cause no funds have been di­verted.”

RK Arora, CMD of Su­pertech, said: “We have not in­dulged in such ghost buyer prac­tices, but yes, we of­fer sub­ven­tion scheme where buyer pays 7-8% of to­tal cost and rest on the pos­ses­sion of the prop­erty, and no EMI un­til pos­ses­sion.”

In a What­sapp mes­sage, Omaxe de­nied in­dulging in any such prac­tice. Emails and mes­sages sent to the other builders went unan­swered. DNA will pub­lish those re­sponses as and when they come.

‘Ghost’ buy­ers get used in two ways: First, builders get cheaper loan when com­pared to com­mer­cial lend­ing rates; and sec­ond, they help cre­ate a ‘sold out’ tag which helps builders bid more for their prop­erty.

For banks, ‘ghost’ buy­ers are a medium through which loans are chan­nel­ized to com­mer­cial en­ti­ties at lower rates meant for home-buy­ers. “It could not have hap­pened with­out the ac­tive par­tic­i­pa­tion and guid­ance from wellplaced bank­ing pro­fes­sion­als,” said San­jay Sharma, MD, Qubrex Realty, a real es­tate ex­change.

One such loan-taker told DNA: “A bank ex­ec­u­tive asked me: ‘ kya builder ne EMI dena band kar diya hai (has the builder stopped pay­ing your EMI)? It shows that banks are well aware of this fraud­u­lent prac­tice.”

RBI data show that out of a to­tal of Rs 2.5 lakh crore new loan dis­bursed by banks in 2016, over Rs 1 lakh crore was given to the hous­ing sec­tor alone. Credit growth to in­dus­try as a whole has been 4.5 per cent, while for hous­ing it has been al­most 15 per cent.

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