Former Fortis Healthcare Promoter Shivinder Mohan Singh's bail plea in a money laundering case was dismissed by a Delhi court on Wednesday. The matter pertains to alleged embezzlement of funds at Religare Finvest Ltd (RFL).
Additional Sessions Judge Sandeep Yadav stated that the defendant, Shivinder Mohan Singh, had utilised the ill-gotten gains from criminal activities related to the scheduled offence. He added that several acts attributed to Shivinder, such as the advancement of unsecured loans to various entities, have come to light during the investigation in the case.
The court further observed that the amount involved in said case is enormous (Rs 2,397 crore). The fact that Shivinder managed to smuggle a phone while he was in the custody of the Enforcement Directorate (ED) spoke volumes about his conduct and intent, the court highlighted.
"When accused can indulge in such nefarious activities while in custody, it would be reasonable to conclude that he, if released on bail, will try to tamper with evidence and influence witnesses," the court said in its order.
It further said that the company Religare Enterprises Limited (REL) was clearly cheated as loans were allegedly extended by Shivinder to the companies/entities controlled by his friends/relatives/family members and other accused persons and various entities had ultimately defaulted.
Economic offences with deep-rooted conspiracies involving loss of public funds need to be viewed seriously and considered as grave offences that affect the country's economy as a whole. This also poses a serious threat to the financial health of the country, the court highlighted in its order.
Malvinder, also a former Fortis Healthcare promoter; former CMD of Religare Enterprises Ltd (REL)--Sunil Godhwani, former CEO of REL-- Kavi Arora (48) and former CFO of RFL--Anil Saxena have also been arrested in the case.
The court observed that it had been revealed during the investigation that entities either owned or associated with Shivinder were allegedly involved in systematic placement/layering acquisition and projection of proceeds of crime as untainted over a long period.
It, however, added that the observations made were tentative and confined to the disposal of the bail application and would not have any bearing on the merits of the case during trial.
During the hearing held through video conferencing, ED's Special Public Prosecutor Nitesh Rana opposed the bail application saying REL was allegedly cheated on account of the act and conduct of Shivinder and that is why complaint was filed by REL.
He further said that Shivinder may influence witnesses who have cooperated with ED during the investigation and granting him bail could frustrate the proceedings of attachment of the property of accused.
Rana added that tracing the money trail is still in progress and a supplementary complaint will be filed in due course under economic offences.
Senior advocate N Hariharan and advocate Tanveer Ahmed Mir, appearing for Shivinder, argued that all details of transactions were made available to the probe agency even before Shivinder's arrest.
All electronic evidence has been seized during the investigation which cannot be tampered with, he said.
Hariharan claimed that basic decisions regarding loans were taken by co-accused Sunil Godhwani as he was the Executive Director and Shivinder was unaware of the transactions.
He also told the court that unsecured loans constitute about two per cent of total turn-over of the company, hence Shivinder did not siphon-off any funds (from the company).
Hariharan further said that the call made by Shivinder on an alleged smuggled phone was an innocuous call and had nothing to do with the investigation of the case.
RFL is a group firm of REL - Religare Enterprises Ltd, which was earlier promoted by Malvinder and his brother Shivinder.
The Economic Offences Wing (EOW) registered an FIR in March last year after it received a complaint from RFL"s Manpreet Suri against Shivinder, Godhwani and others, alleging that loans were taken by them while managing the firm but the money was invested in other companies. ED lodged a money laundering case based on this.