Sucheta Dalal :DSQ's Dalmia scoots
Sucheta Dalal

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DSQ's Dalmia scoots  

Jun 22, 2003

Newspapers would have us believe that the Kolkata police has cast a wide net to try and nab Dinesh Dalmia, managing director of DSQ Software. The Enforcement Directorate (ED) has issued an alert at all airports to stop him from leaving the country.

At one time, he was even stopped from leaving India via Delhi; but the alert lapsed after ED filed charges against him and froze a bank account containing Rs 30 crore. Informed sources now say that Dalmia has scooted off to America even as the Chennai High Court cancelled his bail.

He is now planning to move the Supreme Court in appeal. Our sources say that he is routinely in touch with his senior officials by email and telephone and that the police could easily track him down if they wanted to.

But then, it is three years since Dalmia’s involvement in large scale price manipulation and selling of assets has been known, but the authorities haven’t managed nab him despite scores of arrest warrants pending against him.

Wockhardt’s Rs 104 cr

Auditors of Wockhardt Life Sciences (WLS) have said that they cannot form an opinion about the recoverability of Rs 104.08 crore outstanding from a company. A reader points out that this sum amounts to a whopping 70 per cent of WLS’s annual operating income and 17 times its operating profit.

Although its auditors are not certain, Wockhardt’s directors say that the money can be recovered. But shareholders want to know basic facts like the name of the company that borrowed this money, its directors and their relationship with the WLS promoters.

More importantly, they want to know why the directors and audit committee allowed it to lend a further Rs 51.93 crore to the company in 2002 when there was an outstanding of Rs 52.15 crore in FY 2001. Any answers?

Attracting touts

Ms M. Gupta, a Delhi-based investor, was hit by a new racket when she sent to a leading national daily, her grievance against Arihant Credit Capital whose cheques for her fixed deposit redemption (FD Numbers 114815, 114816 and 1151) and interest had bounced.

The company did not reply. But two separate touts contacted the investor on the address published by the newspaper. The first one offered to recover 80 per cent of her dues for a small fee of Rs 100.

The second wrote her a formal letter from Ghaziabad, offering to recover her money for a 10 per cent service charge. He wanted a cash advance of Rs 500 to recover the principle of Rs 45,000 with Rs 4,000 to be paid on recovery. The company would send her principal and interest directly by cheque, he wrote.

The letter even had a reference number that he asked her to ‘quote in all future correspondence’. This raises three possibilities. That investors are probably being cheated twice over by touts who promise to recover their money. Or, if their claim is true, then the company/its employees are involved in a racket to bilk investors off 10 per cent of their principle and interest.

And thirdly, that the touts are bold enough to run an organised racket and visit investors even in newspaper offices, because they are confident that the police will not interfere with their shady business.

Colourful history

As it turns out Arihant Credit Capital has a very colourful history. It was incorporated in 1983 as Arihant Consultants and became Arihant Credit Capital in 1993, after it had gone public. It later changed its name to ATN Arihant International Ltd and then quietly dropped the Arihant to become ATN International Ltd.

Promoted by S. K. Jain and A. Jain, the company began as an investment banking company operating in trading and short-term lending. But even as it ditched fixed deposit holders, Arihant has been dabbling in wind power projects, money-changing and now television broadcasting.

Its debt instruments have been downgraded to default grade and its scrip traded on the Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE) at Rs 3.9 last Friday. Yet, an investor trying to track the company could end up in a complicated maze.

That’s because, companies with the name Arihant probably have a propensity to change their names. For instance, Arihant Capital Services has become Arihant Petrochemicals Ltd., Arihant Fabrics turned into Arihant Industries, Arihant Financial Services became Arihant Corporation and Arihant Housing Finance has become LCC Infotech Ltd. Moreover, the Department of Company Affairs’ website says that there are 391 companies starting with the name Arihant registered in various States. In fact, an Arihant Capital Markets is listed in two states (West Bengal and Madhya Pradesh) with an identical name; and they operate in every conceivable business known to mankind.

-- Sucheta Dalal