From Santiago Bernabeu to Unitech Villas, IL&FS favours ran thick and fast (IANS Special)
New Delhi, July 19 (IANS) Rajesh Mokashi, the CARE Managing Director (MD) recently sent on compulsory retirement by the firm's management for colluding with the IL&FS top brass, succumbed to ordinary temptation. Malleable, he fell for a Fitbit watch. Joint MD at IL&FS Arun Saha was to offer him a Fitbit watch to curry favour from the rating agency boss.
Grant Thornton (GT) in its forensic audit has found myriad ways of potential favours and gifts given by the IL&FS management to keep rating agency bosses in good humour. Extremely damaging e-mail records prove this.
The MD at rating agency Fitch, Ambreesh Srivastava, was gifted a white shirt size 41. This again indicates a close relationship between IL&FS and the CRA management team. While some of this may sound puerile and banal for these are simple things that one can purchase as a CEO, the reality is that these things are on record and point to the transactional nature of the relationship.
But given the threat percept guillotine that was expected to fall on IL&FS from the rating agencies, the management pursued a policy of keeping the gaping holes in the business covered at all times by managing the ratings or the entire business would have been imperiled.
IL&FS acted as facilitators to ensure that the rating agency bosses were entertained at all times. The GT review finds that between September 2012 and August 2016, it appears that Ramesh Bawa had organised the purchase of a villa for Jyotsna Srivastava, wife of Ambreesh Srivastava, head of financial institutions, south and south east Asia, Fitch Ratings, and also helped them obtain a discount of Rs 43 lakh in the purchase of the said villa.
Moreover, Bawa had requested Ajay Chandra, MD, Unitech, who's now in jail in a different case, to personally get involved and resolve the issue that Jyoptsna was facing with regard to the interest charged on delayed payments for the villa purchased.
Here again, the ratings were compromised by Fitch for the favour obtained. The villa in question is in Gurgaon Espace Premiere Nirvana Country 2 type Duplex B 46. The villa cost the Srivastavas Rs 3.12 crore, a discount of Rs 43 lakh was given by Unitech.
The laundry list of such favours goes on. GT has discovered that in 2008 a donation of Rs 25 lakh was given to Sameeksha Trust. Public domain searches by GT indicate that D.N. Ghosh is the managing trustee of Sameeksha Trust and also former chairman of ICRA.
This unholy nexus between IL&FS and various rating agency bosses, past and present, lurks everywhere. It appears that IL&FS had close links with ICRA officials and further monetary benefits were given to various entities of the key officials at these agencies. To keep the gold standard of triple A rating, IL&FS did whatever it could to bribe its way out of trouble.
Now, it is revealed that IL&FS had a corporate box in Santiago Bernabeu stadium which houses one of the most accomplished football teams in the world -- Real Madrid. GT review shows that Brickwork Ratings founder and Director D. Ravishankar was given passes for a game in the stadium.
That is not a major crime, but in his thank you note, Ravishankar wrote to Arun Saha, the pointman for all these favours as IANS highlighted on Friday morning, that he watched the match with his son who is doing Phd in the University of Barcelona. Among other things, with a focus on rating agencies, Arun Saha was also handling the distribution of gifts to them during Diwali.