Banks to again auction Kingfisher House, Goa villa at lower prices

Dec 18, 2016 0

Mumbai– A State Bank of India (SBI)-led consortium of banks will, in the coming week, again auction Kingfisher House here and the Kingfisher Villa in Goa, once owned by industrialist Vijay Mallya, at lower reserve prices compared to the three failed previous auctions.

The reserve price for Kingfisher House, once the airline’s corporate office, will be auctioned on Monday at Rs 115 crore, which is 15 per cent lower than the failed second auction held in August, when the minimum sale price was fixed at Rs 135 crore.

Kingfisher Villa (Photo: Wikipedia)

The Kingfisher Villa in north Goa will be auctioned on December 22 at a reserve price of Rs 81 crore, which is 5 per cent lower than the auction held in October, when the lenders had tried to sell the sea facing property at Rs 85.29 crore.

The liquor baron left the country in March and is currently said to be living in Britain.

Kingfisher Villa, owned by United Breweries Holdings (UBHL), was mortgaged as collateral for loans to Kingfisher Airlines.

Besides these two properties, the banks are also once again auctioning the movable properties worth Rs 15.72 lakh kept at Kingfisher House, on January 5.

These assets include 10 cars, which will be auctioned on an individual basis.

Kingfisher Airlines owes around Rs 9,000 crore to the consortium of 17 banks.

Two attempts this year to e-auction Kingfisher House, the airline’s corporate office in Mumbai, ended in failure as no buyer approached SBICap, which is auctioning Mallya’s properties on behalf of the lenders. (IANS)

Read More

8th Vibrant Gujarat Summit to have 12 partner countries

Dec 17, 2016 0

Ahmedabad– The eighth edition of the high-profile biennial Vibrant Gujarat Global Summit, a conclave of industrial investors, will be held in state capital Gandhinagar between January 10 and January 13 with 12 countries partnering the event.

The event, which was initiated by Narendra Modi as Chief Minister in 2003, invited investment commitments of Rs 51,000 crore, of which 66 per cent projects have either been commissioned or are under advanced stages of implementation.

Vibrant Gujarat Global Summit (File Photo-2016)

Vibrant Gujarat Global Summit (File Photo-2016)

Giving this information, state Chief Secretary J.N. Singh told reporters here on Saturday that the 8th edition of Vibrant Gujarat Global Summit “will be bigger and grander”. He added the scale of the event will be bigger than earlier editions held under Modi, though Singh did not name him.

The Summit will be inaugurated by the Prime Minister, who will throw open a Global Trade Show as well as chair a Global CEOs Roundtable. Modi will also declare open a five-week long Nobel Laureate Exhibition.

Singh said the exhibition would be accompanied by panel discussions “where participants will have a unique opportunity to interact with these global minds on science and learn about the scientific developments across the world”.

“We will also have dedicated seminars on ‘Make In Gujarat’, as an extension of ‘Make in India’. For the first time we are organizing ‘Action Seminars’ to enable ‘Make your own policy environment’. The idea is to make Vibrant Gujarat a truly global platform to ideate, engage and collaborate,” he said.

Additional Chief Secretary (Industries and Mines) P.K. Taneja said 12 countries would partner the event as against eight in the previous edition, “which reflects the growing interest in Gujarat worldwide”.

“Through the 8th edition, we are also extending our commitment to encourage startups and MSMEs in the state. Additionally, we are also reaching out to other state governments to be a part of Vibrant Gujarat to truly represent our theme of ‘Connecting India to the World’. I am confident of the attendees finding the summit interactive, knowledge driven and engaging,” he added.

The 12 partner countries are Australia, Britain, Canada, Denmark, France, Japan, Netherlands, Poland, Singapore, Sweden, UAE, and US. The event will be supported by seven partner organisations – Australia India Business Council, Indo-Canada Chambers of Commerce, Japan External Trade Organization, UAE India Business Council, UK India Business Council, US India Business Council and British Council. (IANS)

Read More

Swamy files complaint against Ratan Tata

Dec 16, 2016 0

New Delhi– BJP MP Subramanian Swamy on Friday filed a complaint against Tata Sons interim Chairman Ratan Tata, lobbyist Niira Radia, former Telecom Minister A. Raja and senior Unitech officials for allegedly laundering money to Unitech companies to obtain 2G spectrum licence.

Swamy, who filed the complaint in the Special Central Bureau of Investigation Court, also named “unknown” or unidentified CBI officials for protecting Tata in the 2G spectrum case.

Subramanian Swamy

Subramanian Swamy

Special Judge O.P. Saini fixed January 11 for consideration of the complaint and argument.

The complaint filed by Swamy’s counsel Tarun Goomber has named two then directors of Tata Realty and Infrastructure Limited (TRIL) F.N. Subedar and P.D. Karkaria, then Chief Financial Officer Kishore Selatore, then Company Secretary M.V. Balaji, Unitech’s Chairman Ramesh Chandra, Managing Director Sanjay Chandra and Ajay Chandra and company official S. Ravi Aiyer.

“All these crimes and illegalities were committed at the behest of accused Ratan Tata as he and his companies were barred from obtaining the licences as per the Clause Numbers 5.1 and 8 of the guidelines of the Unified Access Service License (UASL), 2005, legally,” the complaint said.

Swamy alleged that various Tata Group companies were used to route the money to the various companies of Unitech Group and finally managed to a launder a sum of Rs 1,700 crore for their illegal purpose during the period of March 2007 to March 2008.

Ratan Tata

Ratan Tata

Swamy said that the movement was facilitated by eight companies of Unitech Wireless. After receiving the fund, the companies’ names were changed to conceal the identity.

When licences was procured, the eight companies amalgamated with Unitech Wireless (Tamil Nadu) Pvt. Ltd.

Earlier, the cut-off date for receiving application for spectrum licence was October 10, 2007, but Raja suddenly changed the cut-off dates to September 25, 2007.

As per Raja’s first-come-first-serve policy, the letter of intent would be issued to those companies who depositted their fees first.

It helped real estate company Unitech in getting telecom licence even though the company was a new entrant in the telecommunication sector.

Of the Rs 1,700 crore funds received from Tata Reality, Unitech spent Rs 1,651 crore on obtaining the licence.

He stated that during her questioning, Radia disclosed the conspiracy and money laundering offence committed by Tata but the probe agency failed to nail the accused person.

Swamy submitted various documents, including from the Ministry of Corporate Affairs’s serious fraud investigation office (SFIO).

He has requested court to initiate proceedings against the accused under various charges dealing with cheating, fraud, forgery, criminal conspiracy and under the provisions of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act.

Swamy has also requested court to direct the Enforcement Directorate (ED) to conduct further investigation to unearth the deep-rooted conspiracy. (IANS)

Read More

Indian-origin immigration manager found guilty in H1-B tech visa fraud case

Dec 16, 2016 0

New York–An Indian-origin immigration manager of an outsourcing company has been found guilty in a H-1B visa fraud case, Paul Fishman, the New Jersey federal prosecutor, said on Friday.

Hari Karne, 32, admitted before Federal Judge Kevin McNulty in Newark, New Jersey, on Friday that he conspired to obstruct the investigation into a scheme to get fraudulent visas for foreign workers and falsify salary information.

Even though President-elect Donald Trump has not yet assumed office, the case came up a week after he announced that one of his priorities would be to have the Labour Department crackdown on H-1B visa fraud.

US Attorney Paul J. Fishman

US Attorney Paul J. Fishman

The others in the alleged conspiracy were shown in court documents seen by IANS as SCM Data based in New Jersey and MMC System headquartered in Virginia, and six individuals, but they are not listed as defendants in Karne’s case.

The prosecution said that Karne, who is from Hyderabad, worked as an immigration manager with SCM Private Limited in India, which had service agreements with SCM Data and MMC System that in turn provide information technology consultants to US companies.

The conspirators recruited students and recent graduates and sponsored them for H-1B visas meant for people with specialised qualification, prosecutors said.

To comply with H-1B requirements, they showed them as full-time salaried employees of their companies, according to prosecutors.

However, they were not paid by the outsourcing companies and collected salaries only from the companies they were sent to work in.

One employee, identified only as “Individual 1” in court papers, was not paid for some time around January last year. Since the outsourcing companies had to show that it paid H-1B visa-holders full-time, Karne asked “Individual 1” to pay cash to the outsourcers from the person’s earnings from the company to which the person was outsourced, prosecutors said.

The outsourcers then made out a check using what “Individual 1” had paid in cash back to the person to cover the period they had not paid in order to make it appear the person was a regular, salaried employee, prosecutors said.

Karne also admitted that in February and March last year he helped SCM Data and MMC Systems prepare false leave slips for foreign workers during a Department of Labour audit to conceal the fact that they were not paid during those months, prosecutors said.

He could face a maximum sentence of five years in jail, but often the actual penalties are less. (IANS)

Read More

Indian-American elected mayor of Cupertino in California

Dec 16, 2016 0

New York– In a first, an Indian-American woman has been elected the new mayor of Californian city Cupertino, the worldwide headquarters of Apple, it was reported on Friday.

Savita Vaidhyanathan, a Cupertino resident for more than 20 years, was sworn in last week in a ceremony attended by her mother who had flown in from India, the Mercury News reported.

Savita Vaidhyanathan

Savita Vaidhyanathan

“I’ve had several congratulatory messages saying that I’m the first woman mayor of Indian-origin. Yes, I do take a lot of pride and prestige in that,” she said.

“I do want to thank the residents of the city of Cupertino that voted me in not looking at ethnicity at all. Thank you for your trust in me, and maybe we did break that silicon ceiling and put a few more cracks in that glass ceiling,” Vaidhyanathan added.

She takes over from Barry Chang who had served as mayor from 2015.

Vaidhyanathan was working as a high school Maths teacher and an officer in a commercial bank.

Read More

Demonetisation should have been done in 1971: Modi

Dec 16, 2016 0

New Delhi–Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday strongly defended demonetisation, a decision he said should have been taken in 1971 when Indira Gandhi was heading the government.

“We needed to do it in 1971. We have caused huge losses by not doing this since 1971,” Modi told BJP MPs, lashing out at the Congress for not taking effective measures to curb black money in the country.

Indian Prime Minister Mody

Indian Prime Minister Mody

The Prime Minister referred to former bureaucrat Madhav Godbole’s book in which he has recorded how then Home Minister Y.B. Chavan had recommended demonetisation to curb ill-gotten and hidden wealth.

“Godbole says in the book that Gandhi replied saying ‘are no more elections to be fought by the Congress’? Chavan got the message and the recommendation was (dropped),” Modi said.

“This was in 1971 when everybody recommended this. Had it (demonetisation) been done in 1971, the nation wouldn’t have been in this situation today.”

Modi spoke outside Parliament on the last day of the winter session that was washed away by bedlam over the spiking of the high value currency notes which has caused an unprecedented cash shortage in the country.

The recording of the Prime Minister’s speech was broadcast hours after he addressed the BJP Parliamentary Party.

He said the Congress had put the party ahead of the nation but the BJP follows “nation first” ideology.

Modi also took a dig at Leftists for opposing the government’s November 8 decision to scrap 500 and 1,000 rupee notes.

“The Communists have compromised their ideology by aligning with the Congress,” he sad and recalled how the late veteran Marxist Jyoti Basu had famously said that “Indira Gandhi survives on black money”.

“The government (of the Congress) is of the black money, by the black money and for the black money,” Modi said, referring to Basu’s remarks. (IANS)

Read More

Ratan Tata not stepping down as chairman of Tata Trusts

Dec 16, 2016 0

Mumbai– Tata Sons on Friday said that its interim Chairman Ratan Tata has no plans to step down from the chairmanship of the Tata Trusts.

“Further to news reports that have appeared in the media today, Ratan Tata, Interim Chairman, clarified that there are no plans for his stepping down from the chairmanship of the Tata Trusts at this point in time,” Tata Sons said in a statement.

Ratan Tata

Ratan Tata

“The reference to the media discussion with some trustees relate to the process being put in place for the leadership succession in the Trusts in the future, to enable an ordered and smooth transition of leadership.”

Tata emphasised that the ‘Trusts’ were undertaking many initiatives of national impact and that he is looking forward to continue his involvement with these initiatives in the ‘Trusts’.

“He was however keen that a process should be in place for a smooth succession at an appropriate time,” the statement added.

Tata Trusts hold 66 per cent stake in the holding company of the industrial conglomerate Tata Sons. (IANS)

Read More

Disney ex-workers say replacement by Indians discriminates against Americans

Dec 15, 2016 0

New York– Workers laid off by Disney have filed a case against Disney alleging that replacing them with Indians was discrimination against them because they were Americans.

The discrimination suit filed in a federal court in Florida on Monday said Disney dismissed the workers “based solely on their national origin and race, replacing them with Indian nationals”.

The 29 former information technology workers said in court papers seen by IANS that they were made to train their replacements starting October 2014 and the management treated them and the other 250 laid off workers rudely while the Indians were given “special treatment”.

Disney (Photo: Disney Park)

Disney (Photo: Disney Park)

They claimed that they were treated differently based “solely on race or colour and ancestry”. They were laid off in January 2015.

The suit was filed three days after President-elect Donald Trump had said at two rallies that he would not allow US workers to be replaced by foreigners and was especially miffed that Americans being laid off were made to train their replacements. It is “demeaning”, he said.

“We are not going to let it happen to our people any more.”

A person of Indian origin, Lavanya Jagadean, is one of the 29 workers suing Disney and, therefore, lawyers said in court papers that Jagadean is not suing on the basis “national origin and race” discrimination.

However, the case also invokes laws against age discrimination and Jagadean could be covered under that.

This case was filed after a federal judge dismissed another case brought by laid off Disney employees in October against Disney and the two companies that provided it the Indian workers, HCL and Cognizant Technologies.

Judge Gregory Presnell ruled that the three companies had not made false statements on certifications for the Visa programme that current workers would not be adversely affected, which was the basis of the case, according to the Orlando Sentinel.

The newspaper said that the case filed in January, “alleged that the Disney employees were the victim of a racketeering scheme to terminate them and replace them with immigrant, outsourced workers through the federal H-1B Visa programme”.

The case filed this week is only against Disney and takes a new approach by claiming discrimination against Americans by replacing them with younger Indians. (IANS)

Read More

Trump meets Satya Nadella, other tech titans

Dec 15, 2016 0

By Arul Louis

New York– Pushing his America First agenda, President-elect Donald Trump met with Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella and 12 other technology titans on Wednesday in a bid to heal rifts and get them on board with his programme of creating more jobs and increasing investments in the US.

Trump, who had slammed the technology sector during his campaign for exporting jobs and manufacturing overseas, hailed them as an “amazing group of people” at the start of the meeting in Trump Tower and promised them, “I am here to help you folks do well.”

Jeff Bezos, the CEO of Amazon and also the owner of The Washington Post, which continues its editorial campaign against Trump, set the conciliatory tone from the other side, saying, “I’m super excited about the possibility that this could be the innovations administration.”

President-elect Donald Trump is seen at a meeting of technology leaders in the Trump Organization conference room at Trump Tower in New York, NY, USA on December 14, 2016. Credit: Albin Lohr-Jones / Pool via CNP

President-elect Donald Trump is seen at a meeting of technology leaders in the Trump Organization conference room at Trump Tower in New York, NY, USA on December 14, 2016. Credit: Albin Lohr-Jones / Pool via CNP

A summary of the meeting released by the Trump transition team listed first among items discussed, “Creating more jobs for American workers.” This could impact Indian tech and business process sectors that rely heavily on outsourcing.

Last week, Trump said that he would not allow foreign workers on temporary H-1B visas for technology professionals to displace American workers.

Access to visas for hi-tech workers, which worried technology leaders, did not figure in the summary.

 President-elect Donald Trump meets with leaders of major US technology companies on Wednesday, Dec. 14, 2016, in a bid to heal the rifts on both sides and promote investment, job creation and innovation. (Photo credit: Albin Lohr-Jones/Pool via IANS)

President-elect Donald Trump meets with leaders of major US technology companies on Wednesday, Dec. 14, 2016, in a bid to heal the rifts on both sides and promote investment, job creation and innovation. (Photo credit: Albin Lohr-Jones/Pool via IANS)

Among other items discussed were eliminating barriers preventing American companies from doing business in other countries and America’s competitive trade dynamic and market access with China.

At the beginning of the meeting he told the technology leaders, “We’re gonna do fair trade deals. We’re going to make it a lot easier for you to trade across borders …”

Nadella, who was accompanied by Microsoft President Brad Smith, refused to speak to reporters as he entered and left the Trump Tower.

While people in the technology sector criticised Trump during the campaign mostly because of their perception of his social and immigration policies, Nadella was silent in public.

After the election, Nadella congratulated Trump in a post on LinkedIn. But in an implied criticism of the Trump campaign’s perceived rhetoric, he also wrote, “Our commitment to our mission and values are steadfast, and in particular fostering a diverse and inclusive culture.”

Nadella seemed ill at ease during the start of the meeting, which was open to the media.

When the participants around the conference table introduced themselves, Nadella, who was seated at a corner away from Trump, said curtly, “Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft.”

When it was Smith’s turn, he tried to make up for Nadella by saying, “And like Satya, pleased to be here.”

Google CEO Sundar Pichai was not invited to the meeting as CEO Larry Page and President Sergei Brin of Google’s holding company, Alphabet, were there.

Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg wasn’t there either and Sheryl Sandberg, the COO represented the company.

Twitter wasn’t invited to the meeting because despite its outsize influence in politics, financially it is a puny company with a market capitalisation of only $37.5 million.

Others at the meeting included Apple’s Tim Cook, Tesla’s Elon Musk, IBM’s Ginni Rometti, Intel’s Brian Krzanich and Oracle’s Safra Catz.

Trump made it a point of emphasising that the stocks markets have voted him good for business, regardless of the tech sector’s reservations.

He referred to the recent spike in the stock markets called the “Trump bounce,” and teasingly said, “Right now everybody in this room has to like me at least a little bit.”

The NASDAQ market where many of the technology stocks are listed is up 4.6 per cent since the election.

“We’re going to try and have that bounce continue and perhaps even more importantly we want you to keep going with the incredible innovation,” he added.

He promised to cut taxes and pave the way for tech companies to bring in and invest the large hoard of cash they hold overseas because of tax concerns. (IANS)

Read More

India good investment destination, GST expected next year: Modi

Dec 14, 2016 0

Kuala Lumpur– Describing it as an opportune time to invest in India, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday invited Asian businesses to invest in the country and said the GST regime is expected to be implemented next year.

“India is not only a good destination. It’s always a good decision to be in India. We welcome those who are not in India so far,” Modi said through videoconferencing at the Economic Times Asian Business Leaders Conclave here.

Indian Prime Minister Mody

Indian Prime Minister Mody

“This is a time for integration. At the level of economy also, we are among the most open and integrated economies,” Modi said.

Listing some of his government’s reform measures for transforming the Indian economy, the Prime Minister mentioned the recent demonetisation drive that has impacted economic activity in the past one month.

“We are now moving towards a digital and cashless economy. Presently, cleaning the system of black money and corruption is very high on my agenda,” he said.

On the Goods and Services Tax (GST) system, he said: “The constitutional amendment for Goods and Services Tax has been passed. This is expected to be implemented in 2017.”

The November 8 demonetisation of high-value currency has, however, put a serious question mark on GST implementation by the Centre’s targeted deadline of April 1, 2017.

With the two-day meeting of the GST Council — that was scheduled to end on Monday — being cut short half way through, hopes of meeting the targeted GST implementation deadline receded further in a situation of political confrontation unleashed by the government’s demonetisation measure. (IANS)

Read More