India attaches absconder Mallya assets worth Rs. 4,234 crores

Sep 3, 2016 0

Mumbai– Spelling fresh trouble for absconding liquor baron Vijay Mallya, the Enforcement Directorate (ED) of India on Saturday attached his assets in Maharashtra and Karnataka and bank deposits and company shares worth Rs 4,234.84 crore as part of its ongoing probe following a complaint by State Bank Of India (SBI) in connection with a loan default.

The properties attached include Mally’s Mandwa farm house in Mumbai’s Alibag (Rs 25 crore), flats in Kingfisher Tower in Bengaluru (Rs 565 crore), his fixed deposits with HDFC bank (Rs 10 crore), shares of USL, UBL and MacDowell Holding Co. held by him and United Breweries Holding Limited (UBHL) and his controlled entities (Rs 3,635 crore).

Vijay Mallya

Vijay Mallya

“The present market value of the attached properties is Rs 6,630 crore approximately. So far, ED Mumbai has attached properties of Mallya and his companies having market value more than Rs. 8,000 crore,” said an ED official.

This is the first major action against Mallya, 61, after he was declared a “proclaimed absconder” under Section 82 of the CrPC, by Special Judge P.R. Bhavke of the Special Court of Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) on June 14.

Mallya was required to appear in person before the Special Court within 30 days after he was declared ‘proclaimed absconder’, failing which the government could initiate attachment and disposal of his assets to recover the dues, an official said.

The official said the ED is investigating the same case in which the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on August 13 had registered a case against Mallya, his defunct Kingfisher Airlines, UBHL and others after State Bank of India approached the agency with a complaint on behalf of a consortium of 17 banks for causing them loss of Rs 6,027 crore.

The ED Mumbai branch registered a fresh case against Mallya, Kingfisher Airlines, UBHL and others under Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) 2002.

Earlier, ED registered a money laundering case against Mallya and Kingfisher Airlines and its CFO in January 2016 in the matter of IDBI bank loan of Rs 750 crore.

As per the First Information Report (FIR), Mallya and UBHL executed a personal guarantee and a corporate guarantee at the time of obtaining loans from the banks in addition to the collateral securities of Kingfisher Airlines and its assets.

“On the request of Mallya, Kingfisher Airlines and UBHL, their loans were recasted in December 2010 and total outstanding were settled as Rs 5,575.72 crore subject to regular debt serving and adherence to agreed repayment schedules,” the official said.

However, the official said, the accused failed to pay as per recast agreement and even did not honour the guarantees executed by them.

“Instead of it, the accused filed court case against banks that the said guarantees were taken from them under coercion or by force. Hence the consortium resorted to file complaint with CBI,” the official said.

The ED investigation so far revealed that huge funds (more than Rs 3,500 crore) out of these loans were remitted outside India on pretext of payments of lease rentals or repair and maintenance but they failed to provide proper lease agreements and many irregularities in such payments were observed.

In the investigation, the ED also found that Mallya created a complex web of shell or investment companies in the name of his family members and employees with dummy directors.

“These companies though do not have any business activities and no independent source of income but hold substantial movable and immovable properties,” the official said.

Mallya, while submitting a statement of his personal assets to the consortium of banks, has not disclosed his full properties in India and overseas as well as his interests in these companies being controlled directly or indirectly by him, the official said.

“There were substantial movable properties in the form of shares of various public limited companies held in the name of Mallya and UBHL, who have given personal and corporate guarantee, respectively.”

The official said that a huge number of shares were also being held in the name of various other group companies controlled directly or indirectly by Mallya. “Even though sufficient funds were available with the accused, they had no intention to make payment towards the bank loans.

“They deliberately kept the huge number of shares approximately worth Rs 3,600 crore pledged with UTI Investment Advisory Services Ltd and Other financial institutions without substantial underlying liabilities and thus kept the consortium of banks in dark,” the official said.

He said that Mallya criminally conspired with Kingfisher Airlines and UBHL to obtain funds through a consortium of banks, and out of which principal amount of Rs 4,930.34 crore still remains unpaid.

Mallya flew to London on March 2 this year just days before a consortium of lenders knocked on the Supreme Court’s doors to recover Rs 9,431.65 crore in loan and interest. (IANS)

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Indian films can potentially reach $150 million mark: Director Jayaraj

Sep 2, 2016 0

By Sandeep Sharma

New Delhi– Returning to the silver screen with the fifth installment of his popular “Veeram” Navarasa series, Jayaraj does not feel the box-office pressure of directing “the most expensive film ever made in Malayalam”.

The National Award-winner says he is happy taking the risk as Indian films have the “unexplored” potential of reaching the Rs 1,000 crore ($150 million) mark.

Made for around Rs 20 crore, “Veeram” features actor Kunal Kapoor as Chandu Chekavar, an infamous warrior in 13th century North Malabar. The film is an adaptation of William Shakespeare’s “Macbeth”.

Director Jayaraj

Director Jayaraj

In a tete-a-tete with IANS, Jayaraj, who has directed internationally-acclaimed films like “Desadanam”, “Shantham”, “Karunam” and “Daivanamathil”, said that “there is a huge potential in Indian film market, which is still unexplored”, that’s why films get surprising responses at the box-office.

“When a film crossed the Rs 100 crore-mark at the box-office for the first time, it was surprising for the Indian film industry. Now film are collecting more than Rs 400 crore in the domestic market itself.

“I feel that there is potential of Rs 1,000 crore in the Indian film industry. There is no question of a language barrier — like whether the film is released in Hindi, Tamil or Malayalam, but what matters is that the film should have a feeling of universality. Then it will run like anything,” Jayaraj, who has been a part of the entertainment industry for over 25 years now, said.

To achieve the Rs 1,000 crore mark, Jayaraj feels filmmakers should spend more money on the technical aspects rather than roping in big names.

“In our industry, if there is something we need to rectify, that is perfection of technicality in films. We need to spend more money in that. That’s what I have done in ‘Veeram’. We have hired star technicians from around in the world for this film because they can create wonders,” said the 56-year-old.

“The intention of a director should be to capture on camera a writer’s thoughts and create visuals out of it. I have made a lot of films with low budgets before. The budget of a film should be determined by its subject and not its stars,” he maintained.

“Veeram” — Jayaraj’s fifth in his Navarasa series after “Karunam”, “Shantham”, “Bheebhatsa” and “Adbutham” — has been shot in the scenic locales of the Ellora caves in Aurangabad, Fatehpur Sikri in Agra and in a few areas in Kerala.

The director describes it as his “dream project”.

“I was planning to make this film since the last three to four years. I found a lot of similarity between Chandu Chekaver — a warrior mentioned in the folk songs of Northern Kerala called Vadakkan Pattukal (ballads of North Malabar) — and Macbeth. ‘Veeram’ is a combination of both,” he said.

“As we are releasing it in three different languages — Malayalam, Hindi and English — we can afford only that much budget for the film,” he added.

Action choreographer Allan Poppleton, who has worked on Hollywood films like “300” and “Avatar”, has been roped in to take care of the action sequences. Oscar-winning make-up artist Trefor Proud has also been brought on board.

“Instead of going behind the actors, I have given importance to the technicians. So I approached a lot of Hollywood technicians for this film.

“The stunts in the film will take viewers way back to the origin of martial arts. Almost all the actors in the film are newcomers. They practiced the special type of martial arts for six to eight months,” Jayaraj said.

The makers of “Veeram”, which also stars Himarsha Venkatsamy, are planning to release the film in October or November.

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Declare black money by September 30 or face action: Modi

Sep 2, 2016 0

New Delhi– Prime Minister Narendra Modi has warned those with black money to declare it before the given deadline of September 30, adding that stern action might be taken after that.

Indian Prime Minister Mody

Indian Prime Minister Mody

“The first decision my government took was to make a SIT (Special Investigation Team) on black money. It is working and the Supreme Court is monitoring it. We have also made laws so that no one dares to send black money abroad from India. So more black money will not be generated,” Modi said in an interview to Network 18.

“For black money at home, we have changed the law, and there is a scheme till September 30 for anyone who wants to join to mainstream. If you made a mistake knowingly or unknowingly (by keeping black money), come to the mainstream now, I have given a way… If I take stern steps after the 30th, no one can blame me,” he said.

The Income Declaration Scheme (IDS) which opened on June 1 gives a chance to black money holders to come clean by declaring the assets by September 30 and paying tax and penalty of 45 percent on it.

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Kerry highlights India as strategic partner of US

Aug 31, 2016 0

New Delhi–India is a key strategic partner of the US with the war against terror and stability of the Indian Ocean Region in focus, US Secretary of State John Kerry said on Wednesday as he interacted with students at the premier Indian Institute of Technology here.

Kerry, who reached Delhi on Monday evening, faced Delhi’s rain woes for the second time, as his motorcade had to negotiate a waterlogged road right in front of the institute.

John Kerry

John Kerry

He, however, chose to joke about it and asked the audience in the almost packed IIT hall if they had come by boats.

“I don’t know if you came in boats or amphibious vehicles of some kind,” Kerry asked, provoking laughter.

His programme to visit a few holy places in the national capital was, meanwhile, cancelled even as the American Embassy preferred to say it was “postponed” because of the torrential rain.

In a lighter vein again, Kerry also said that the Computer Science programme at the IIT was so competitive that those rejected here were taken by institutes like MIT.

At the same time, he chose the platform to send out a strong message to China asking it to abide by an international tribunal’s decision on claims to some reefs and atolls in the South China Sea, citing India as an example.

“India’s decision to accept an international tribunal’s judgement over its maritime border with Bangladesh actually stands apart from other choices made by other countries,” Kerry said.

“It is a model how a potentially dangerous dispute can be resolved peacefully, including the South China Sea where the US continues to call on China and the Philippines to abide by the tribunal’s recent decision which is final and legally binding on both parties,” Kerry added.

Beijing has rejected the decision by The Hague-based Permanent Court of Arbitration over strategic reefs and atolls in the South China Sea. The judgment was in favour of the Philippines.

He also mentioned Pakistan and stressed it needs to work more against the terror network there.

“I have had many conversations with the Pakistan President, Prime Minister, particularly Prime Minister (Nawaz Sharif), about how to focus on sanctuaries in the western part of the country, how to deal with the Haqqani network, deal with Lashkar-e-Taiba,” Kerry said.

“It is clear that Pakistan has work to do in order to push harder against its indigenous groups that are engaged in extremist terrorist activities….

“And it must work with us to help clear sanctuaries that are affecting relationship between Pakistan and India and also our ability to achieve peace and stability in Afghanistan,” said Kerry.

He emphasised that India has a larger role in resolving global conflicts.

“Rising India will play a very critical role in resolving global challenges,” Kerry said adding that the challenges included extremism, terrorism, extreme poverty, uneven and unsustainable growth, among others.

In his around 40-minute-long speech, which was followed by a 30-minute-long question-and-answer session, Kerry also welcomed the passage of the bill on Goods and Services Tax and bankruptcy law in Parliament.

Touching upon the issue of climate change, Kerry emphasised that India is the only country which is going to increase the use of coal instead of decreasing it, though he added that the Indian government is making efforts to change this.

“The choices we make in our energy policy will decide whether our planet survives or not,” Kerry said.

He pointed out how the last decade has been the hottest, the previous one the second hottest and so on.

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Uber co-founder invests in Ravi Ika’s health care startup RxAdvance

Aug 31, 2016 0

SOUTHBOROUGH, MA— RxAdvance, a pharmacy benefits management company, announced that Uber co-founder Oscar Salazar, and Walter Jin, founder of Carlyle Healthcare Group, have invested in Series-A funding round and join the RxAdvance board. The company did not disclose the amount.

Southborough, MA-based RxAdvance was founded by Ravi  Ika, who serves as the company’s President and the Chief Executive Officer. In addition Ika, there are several  Indian-Americans in the top executive positions at the company. They include Anand Tati, Chief Operating Officer;  Prakash Tallabattula, Executive Vice President and Chief Technology Officer; Madu Narahari, Executive Vice President, Implementations;  and Bijendra Malik, Executive Vice President and Chief Security Officer.

Left to right: Ika, Sculley and Kota

Left to right: Ika, Sculley and Kota

Indian-American entrepreneur Subu Kota, president of the Boston Group USA, serves on the board of RxAdvance. Other Indian-American board members include Devaiah Pagidipati and Krishna Ika.

“It is a game-changer for RxAdvance with Uber c0-founder Oscar Salazar joining our team,” Kota told IndUS Business Journal.

“We are honored to have two of the leading minds in disruptive technology and business as our investment partners and board members. We at RxAdvance feel that their high-tech experience and guidance will help to transform the $770 billion PBM and associated avoidable drug-impacted medical spend that is long overdue for innovation,” Ika said in a statement.

Jin was the co-founder of The Healthcare Group at The Carlyle Group. Jin currently serves as the Executive Chairman of Pager and has over 20 years of investment and operational experience in the healthcare sector. He is the co-founder of Three Fields Capital and Pacific Healthcare Management, which manage a portfolio of private equity and venture capital healthcare investments. He is a graduate of Harvard University and currently serves as an Executive in Residence at Johns Hopkins Medicine and an Innovation Fellows Technical Advisor to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

“Our goal is to leverage disruptive technology and world-class design to reinvent healthcare and deliver cost savings and efficiencies,” said Salazar and Jin. “We are proud to join the RxAdvance board, as its accountable drug benefit management practice and risk-sharing business models are timely in this antiquated industry and are perfectly aligned with the healthcare investments in which we are involved.”

“In the recent years, several successful Silicon Valley entrepreneurs and blue chip companies have entered the healthcare vertical to disrupt and transform, in vain. This lack of success can be attributed to the absence of substantial business and revenue models, disruptive service offerings, and a proven track record in the complex healthcare eco-system,” says John Sculley, former Apple CEO and Vice Chairman of RxAdvance. “What impressed me about Ravi and his team at RxAdvance is that they have all the essential components for success – a widely proven and successful revenue model, a solid platform and innovative thinking, a proven track record, and deep healthcare domain expertise capable of disrupting traditional paradigms throughout the care continuum. Through its innovative Collaborative PBM Cloud.”

He said RxAdvance is challenging large incumbent PBMs by disrupting their decades-old business and revenue models, and their risk-sharing models are unheard of in the PBM market.

“I believe this model will pave the path for new entrants from Silicon Valley. Oscar and Walter’s participation is a great testament to the proven model established by RxAdvance,” said Sculley.

RxAdvance is a national full-service pharmacy benefit manager that leverages Collaborative PBM Cloud™ to deliver integrated PBM services that reduce overall pharmacy costs, optimize specialty spend by converting from “buy and bill” to “manage and authorize”, and reduce avoidable drug-impacted medical costs while improving patient’s quality of life with unmatched regulatory compliance and transparency. In addition, RxAdvance offers a global pharmacy risk partnership model standing shoulder-to-shoulder with plan sponsors.

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India approves permanent residency status for foreign investors

Aug 31, 2016 0

New Delhi– In an attempt to encourage foreign investments in India, the central government on Wednesday approved a scheme to grant permanent residency status (PRS) to foreign investors for 10 years subject to conditions specified in the foreign direct investment (FDI) policy.

The Union Cabinet approved the scheme at a meeting chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi here.

Indian Prime Minister Mody

Indian Prime Minister Mody

According to a government statement, suitable provisions will be incorporated in the visa manual to provide for the grant of PRS to foreign investors.

The PRS will be granted for a period of 10 years with multiple entry. This can be renewed for 10 more years if the PRS holder has not come to adverse notice.

The scheme will be applicable only to foreign investors fulfilling the prescribed eligibility conditions, his/her spouse and dependents.

In order to avail this scheme, the foreign investor will have to invest a minimum of Rs 10 crore to be brought within 18 months or Rs 25 crore to be brought within 36 months.

Further, the foreign investment should result in generating employment to at least 20 resident Indians every financial year.

The PRS will serve as a multiple entry visa without any stay stipulation and PRS holders will be exempted from the registration requirements.

The PRS holders will be allowed to purchase one residential property for dwelling purpose.

The spouse/dependents of the PRS holder will be allowed to take up employment in private sector (in relaxation to salary stipulations for Employment Visa) and undertake studies in India. (IANS)

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Sushma meets John Kerry for annual dialogue

Aug 30, 2016 0

New Delhi– External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj on Tuesday met US Secretary of State John Kerry here ahead of the India-US Strategic and Commercial Dialogue.

“Building convergences with the United States. EAM receives @JohnKerry for 2nd Strategic & Commercial Dialogue,” External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Vikas Swarup tweeted.

kerry-sushmaSushma Swaraj and Kerry will lead their respective sides at the Dialogue to review the progress on decisions taken last time and identify new areas of cooperation.

India and the US earlier on Tuesday began the economic phase of their Strategic and Commercial Dialogue, with Commerce Minister Nirmala Sitharaman asking America Inc to join the country’s ‘Make in India’ initiative.

Sitharaman first met co-chair and US Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker, following which they presided over the India-US CEO Forum, that has Tata Sons Chairman Cyrus Mistry and Honeywell Chairman Dave Cote as the co-hosts.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and US President Barack Obama had decided in 2015 to elevate the then India-US engagement into a Strategic and Commercial Dialogue, reflecting the significance of the trade and economic ties between the two sides. (IANS)

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Indian scientists capable of meeting demands of our farmers: Minister

Aug 29, 2016 0

New Delhi–Environment Minister Anil Madhav Dave on Monday said that Indian agriculture scientists are capable enough for meeting the demands of farmers.

His statement came as some farmers associations have urged chief ministers of 22 states to push the central government to allow Genetically Modified (GM) mustard. Meanwhile the Environment Ministry on Thursday said that it has not taken a final call on allowing its cultivation.

It also said that ministry will seek public comments before allowing the GM mustard, which, while opposed by some green activists, is also praised by farmers for its high productivity.

Anil Madhav Dave

Anil Madhav Dave

“Indian agricultural scientists are perfectly capable of meeting the demands of our farmers,” the minister said while inaugurating a workshop on private sector facility under Green Climate Fund (GCF) here.

The workshop aims at providing an opportunity to the private sector to explore funding opportunities offered by the Green Climate Fund (GCF), a fund under United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) to help developing countries tackle climate change.

The fund was formed in 2010 and aims to channel about $100 billion each year to the developing countries for climate change, however the “expectations of developing countries” and “capacity of developed country to deliver such amount” is debated by several experts.

The minister also added that climate change cannot be rectified merely through economics.

He laid emphasis on the mobilisation of financial resources for clean and green investment and sought greater involvement of stakeholders in the planning process. He also emphasised building of sustainability through the traditional Indian knowledge.

An ardent follower of traditional methods for farming, Dave, during a recent interaction with media, spoke at length the quality of crop cultivated through such methods. (IANS)

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Tata Group announces a $25 million to fund research and development in top universities

Aug 29, 2016 0

Mumbai– The Tata Group on Monday announced a $25 million collaboration to fund research and development in some of the world’s topmost universities.

Tata Sons, Tata Consultancy Services (TCS), Tata Chemicals, Tata Communications, Tata Steel and Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) will partner with Harvard, Yale, Royal Society, UK and the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT)-Madras, among others.

The financial support, to be spread over time in line with the tenure of the individual universities, is part of the Tata partnership with academic institutions to support faculty and students.

The support includes funded research programmes, sabbaticals, fellowships and engagements with university leadership besides studying long-term research outcomes related to key market needs.

“The Tata Group’s vision is to touch the lives of 25 percent of the world’s population. For this we are engaging with the best research institutions around the world to enable sustainable market development in the regions we work and live,” said Tata Sons Group Chief Technology Officer Gopichand Katragadda.

According to Katragadda, the collaborative platform would enable the Tata companies work closely with these top universities and the research there would be strengthened by the Tata Group’s market understanding to create meaningful outcomes.

Tata Sons, Tata Communications, Tata Steel and JLR will have a six-year alliance with Harvard Univeristy for developing soft robotics, advanced materials and sensor technologies.

Tata Sons, TCS and Tata Chemicals will partner for five-years with Yale Univeristy in areas of network sciences, consumer behaviour and other research to enable specific applications for needs including employee change management, customer acquisition strategies and digital health.

The collaboration with Royal Society, UK, announced in June aims to establish nine Tata University Research Fellowships in physical sciences and engineering over 10 years.

The five-year engagement with IIT-Madras would be strategic research in Advanced Materials with the main collaborator Tata Steel and Tata Sons providing additional support, for establishing a self-sustaining research centre in Advanced Materials Technologies for the Tata Group.

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Rajan rules out rate cuts unless inflation tamed

Aug 29, 2016 0

Mumbai–Reserve Bank of Governor (RBI) Raghuram Rajan on Monday ruled out any further interest rate cuts till such time the inflation came down to the comfort zone, and once again asked commercial banks to lower the cost of credit to their customers.

“Inflation projections are still at the upper limits of RBI’s inflation objective,” Rajan said in his last Governor’s Foreword to Annual Report released here, referring to the government-mandated level of 4 per cent annual retail inflation, plus or minus 2 percentage points.

“With the Reserve Bank needing to balance savers’ desire for positive real interest rates with corporate investors’ and retail borrowers’ need for low nominal borrowing rates, the room to cut policy rates can emerge only if inflation is projected to fall further,” he said.

In any case, the task of taking a call on the interest rates is to be handed over to a new Monetary Policy Committee, that will comprise three representatives from the central bank — including the RBI Governor as its chair — and three others to be chosen by the government.

Rajan also said the willingness of commercial banks to cut lending rates was muted, since the level of corporate investment had reduced the volume and scope of new profitable loans for banks. The stressed assets of the lenders was also preventing them from taking fresh exposures freely.

As regards growth, he said, while the economy was showing signs of picking up, it was still below the levels that the country was capable of.

“The key weakness is in investment, with private corporate investment subdued because of low capacity utilisation, and public investment slow in rolling out in some sectors,” said Rajan, who is scheduled to demit office on September 4 and hand over the reins to Deputy Governor Urjit Patel.

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