SC or­ders foren­sic au­dit of Unitech

Hindustan Times (Gurugram) - - Gurugram - Bhadra Sinha let­[email protected]­dus­tan­ ■


The Supreme Court on Fri­day ap­pointed a foren­sic au­di­tor to look into the bal­ance sheets of real es­tate firm Unitech and its sis­ter con­cerns and sub­sidiaries and in­ves­ti­gate al­leged di­ver­sion of home­buy­ers’ money paid for res­i­den­tial projects. A foren­sic au­dit is an eval­u­a­tion of a firm’s fi­nan­cial in­for­ma­tion for use as ev­i­dence in court.

A bench headed by Jus­tice DY Chan­drachud nom­i­nated an au­dit­ing firm named Grant Thor­ton to au­dit the fi­nances of the com­pany since Jan­uary 1, 2016.

The or­der came after the court was told by the coun­sel for home­buy­ers that the com­pany was yet to pay ₹450 crore of ₹750 crore to the court reg­istry as per an ear- lier di­rec­tive and failed to pro­vide flats to in­vestors. In some cases, the projects have not even started.

The court clar­i­fied that the au­dit­ing firm will also ex­am­ine sub­sidiaries of Unitech, which may have been present be­fore and now have closed down, all the en­cum­bered and non-en­cum­bered prop­er­ties, and also mov­able and im­mov­able as­sets of di­rec­tors and fam­ily mem­bers of Unitech and its sub­sidiaries.

This is the sec­ond time the top court has or­dered a foren­sic au­dit of the fi­nances of a real es­tate com­pany. Ear­lier this year, the court had or­dered ex­ter­nal and foren­sic au­dit of the Am­ra­pali Group, which is ac­cused of di­vert­ing ₹3,000 crore of home­buy­ers money to its sis­ter firms and sub­sidiaries.

The court asked the au­dit­ing firm to ap­pear be­fore it on Jan­uary 13 so that the draft terms are made clear. The au­di­tor would be at lib­erty to ob­tain de­tails of PANs of all di­rec­tors and fam­ily mem­bers, the court said. On the next date, the au­di­tor would be re­quired to tell the time frame within which the au­dit would be com­pleted. The court or­dered dis­burse­ment of ₹174 crore presently ly­ing with the SC reg­istry. Fifty per cent of the money would be re­funded to those home­buy­ers who have an or­der in their favour from any ju­di­cial fo­rum. Forty per­cent would be pro­vided to Unitech to com­plete con­struc­tion of its projects and 10% would be ear­marked for those who in­vested money with the com­pany in fixed de­posits.

Ad­vo­cate Aish­warya Sinha, ap­pear­ing for home­buy­ers, wel­comed the court or­der. He said au­dit­ing was nec­es­sary to find out if money had been di­verted by Unitech. Ad­vo­cate Pawan Agar­wal, who is as­sist­ing the court, said the com­pany has de­posited ₹347 crore with the court reg­istry, of which some por­tion has al­ready been dis­bursed and ₹21 crore has been given to Unitech to con­struct un­fin­ished flats. The com­pany, how­ever, said it has paid ₹419 crore.

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