Choksi may be probed by reg­u­la­tor for land deal

The Times of India (Mumbai edition) - - TIMES CITY - Umesh K Parida

The Se­cu­ri­ties and Ex­change Board of In­dia (SEBI) might ini­ti­ate a probe against Me­hul Choksi to find out if he dis­closed his Raigad prop­erty ap­pli­ca­tion de­tails in his stock mar­ket fil­ings at the time. The fugi­tive jew­eller’s murky land deals in the dis­trict have been ex­posed by TOI over the last few days.

In Au­gust 2018, An­tigua and Bar­buda had blamed In­dian au­thor­i­ties, in­clud­ing mar­ket reg­u­la­tor Sebi and the CBI, for not rais­ing a red flag on Choksi when he ap­plied for An­tiguan cit­i­zen­ship in 2017; In­dia then de­bunked the Caribbean na­tion’s claim and asked it to ex­tra­dite him on the prin­ci­ples of “rec­i­proc­ity and dual crim­i­nal­ity”.

As CMD of Gi­tan­jali Gems Ltd (GGL), Choksi ap­plied to buy land in Raigad pur­port­edly for an SEZ un­der his firm, but even­tu­ally bought it un­der his own and his as­so­ci­ates’ names. The land was ap­proved for sale by the devel­op­ment com­mis­sioner (in­dus­tries) in March 2008 for a GGL SEZ.

“It is manda­tory for di­rec­tors of listed com­pa­nies to… ob­tain share­hold­ers’ ap­proval through vot­ing to al­low… pur­chase of land for their pro­moted com­pany,” said Shri­ram Subra­ma­nian, MD of the cor­po­rate governance firm Ingovern Proxy Ad­vi­sory. “(Such deals) should fea­ture in the an­nual re­port and stock mar­ket fil­ing of a listed com­pany.”

Ramesh Nair, CEO & coun­try head (In­dia) of the real es­tate ser­vices firm Jones Lang LaSalle, said, “(A) re­lated-party trans­ac­tion… must be dis­closed.”

A SEBI of­fi­cial said the reg­u­la­tor would look into the mat­ter of com­pli­ance.

SEBI could check if the fugi­tive de­clared SEZ land ap­plied for un­der firm’s name in stock fil­ings

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