IL&FS Shocker: Govt Quietly Paying Up on Sovereign Guarantees to ADB and KfW for Failed Group’s $ 50.4 Million Loan
In a shocking revelation of new information, it turns out that the government of India, in 2009, had issued a sovereign guarantee on behalf of Infrastructure Leasing & Financial Services (IL&FS), which is at the centre of what is fast turning out to be one the biggest financial scandals in India. IL&FS is a shadowy private company, which has been run by a cabal headed by founder, Ravi Parthasarathy, for almost 25 years. 
 
These guarantees have been issued on behalf of Asian Development Bank (ADB) and KfW (Kreditanstalt für Wiederaufbau of Germany). Since IL&FS is unable to pay, the government has quietly ponied up the money after discussions with the finance ministry. It is interesting that the issue of these payments has not been brought before the NCLAT (National Company Law Appellate Tribunal) which is hearing the bankruptcy proceedings of the group.  
 
Sovereign guarantees are only issued for government projects or, occasionally, for public sector companies. The ADB report suggests that guarantees have been issued to several infrastructure projects as well, especially in the power sector. In 1992, when Enron first proposed a sovereign guarantee for the Dabhol Power Company’s gold-plated project, it was hugely controversial. Clearly, no lessons have been learnt, since infrastructure projects of IL&FS and many others have turned out to be just as inflated.  
 
The government guarantees, once again, expose how closely the Parthasarathy-led cabal worked with a network of compromised officers of the Indian Administrative Service (IAS), to run an organisation that had the best of both worlds—the power of a government organisation and the money of private sector—allowing IL&FS officials to draw high salaries and perks even as the ship sank.
 
However, the government, which is now found to be making payments on behalf of this massive failed conglomerate, has been treating the ousted management of IL&FS with extremely soft gloves. 
 
Sources in the know say that two payments have been made to the two multilateral institutions in the past couple of months. Reliable sources have confirmed at least one payment of $2 million in the past two months to ADB, for instalments that fell due, and about €600,000 to €700,000 have been paid to KfW. 
 
A search on ADB’s website reveals that a $100-million loan was originally sanctioned to IL&FS around 2001 but half of it was cancelled sometime in 2007 due to “the lack of a subproject pipeline” as part of a revised loan agreement. Finally, a loan of $50.4 million was disbursed.
 
The document further says, “Since 2002, the borrowings (of IL&FS) from bilateral and multilateral agencies have included the ADB loan under PSIF II and €30.55 million from KfW.”
 
And that the “(Indian) Government guaranteed the loan, which was made from ADB’s London interbank offered rate-based lending facility with a maturity of 20 years, including a grace period of 5 years.” 
 
Here are the details, in a nutshell, as reported on ADB’s website. 
 
 
The loan was further distributed to three sub-projects: The Ahmedabad Mehsana Toll Road Project, the New Tirupur Area Development Corporation and Western Gujarat Expressway Project. It was divided into senior and subordinate debt, with tenures of 15 years and 20 years, respectively. This would mean that the last instalments were due when IL&FS got into serious financial trouble. 
 
 
Of the three projects, New Tirupur is mired in litigation, has gone through restructuring and continues to make losses. The Ahmedabad Mehsana Toll Road Project also made losses in the initial years and also saw its debt restructured. However, IL&FS had been regular in servicing the debt, probably until it collapsed in July last year. 
 
Based on information available on the ADB website, one assumes that a part of the loan would be nearing maturity. Moneylife has written to ADB and KfW seeking a response and this article will be updated to include these, when we receive them. We have also connected with IL&FS’s communication head to ask how much of the loans to ADB and KfW are still outstanding. This, too, will be updated when we hear from them. 
 
Details of the sub-loan are available as follows:
 
 
When the ADB financing was being considered, there was talk about KfW of Germany partnering in the project. However, it is not clear if it did, eventually, participate in this project. The ADB document of 2001 says, “KfW representatives joined the ADB Pre-appraisal and Appraisal Missions. KfW has, in-principle, agreed to co-finance the PSIF II up to EUR162 million (about $147 million) comprising concessional funds of EUR25.5 million (about $23 million).” This was subject to government approval; but subsequent documents do not mention any partnership or government guarantee. 
 
In June 2018, just before the group’s financial problems snowballed, media reports show that IL&FS Transportation Networks Ltd (ITNL), raised €23.4 million (Rs186.11 crore) in debt financing from KfW IPEX-Bank. This was a 13-year loan for the Rapid Metro South Extension Project in Gurugram. 
 
At that time, Luis-Miguel Gutierrez, chief representative of KfW IPEX-Bank in India had said, this was the “first ECA financing ever done to support an Indian metro project” and, in doing so, it had “introduced a completely new financing model in the Indian market.”
 
The fact that the government extended a sovereign guarantee to IL&FS shows how deep was the nexus between IL&FS officials and finance ministry which, instead of monitoring its spending, was happy to guarantee its reckless expansion spree. 
 
The projects follow the familiar IL&FS template where multiple group entities get a share of the project pie by undertaking various responsibilities such as preparing the project report, implementing it, undertaking environmental impact assessment and also monitoring it. 
 
ADB says, in a published document, that it looks for “state guarantees” in order to “meet non-commercial risks and allow disaggregation of risks and proper risk allocation in the Indian environment.”
 
The document points out that sovereign guarantees have been issued to large fast track infrastructure projects in India. It reveals that a commitment regarding government guarantees or sovereign guarantees were secured in 2001; a BJP-led government was in power then. 
 
However, under the Fiscal Responsibility Bill introduced in that period, there is a commitment that the government “will also not extend guarantees to projects beyond 0.5% of GDP in any given financial year.” The government also earns a guarantee fee. As regards guarantees issued by state governments these are capped by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI).
 
 

Comments
Prakash Bhate
2 years ago
The resources and efforts spent by Pakistan sponsored terrorists in destabilizing India are but peanuts when compared to the unrelenting and systematic destabilization caused by in-house financial terrorists in the garb of netas, babus, auditors, bankers and industrialists. The former at least are open about their intentions and put their lives on the line for which they and their masters command a grudging acknowledgment. They are hunted down and destroyed as they should be. The latter have been plundering and will continue to plunder with impunity. They are looked up to, lionized and treated with deference. Hunting them down and destroying them is impossible. Ostracizing them, their family and friends is the only option.
SuchindranathAiyerS
2 years ago
Corruption is now pervasive among "democracies" indicating the self indulgence of wide spread non accountability. Accountancy joins law as a disease rather than a profession: Corruption (and greed) is the most corrosive anti Human disease in the World. India shows the way in this.

https://www.taxresearch.org.uk/Blog/2019/04/09/accountancy-in-crisis-fundamental-reform-is-needed/
S KINGSLEY MARTIN
2 years ago
Why Ravi Parthasarathy is not being pursued / arrested? For being at the helm for so many years, he should have been the first one to be arrested.
Ramesh Bajaj
Replied to S KINGSLEY MARTIN comment 2 years ago
If he has left the country, then he should be put in the same category as Nirav Modi and others. They say the arm of the law is long
.. what needs to be done should be done.
Liju Philip
2 years ago
Please dont disturb. The chowkidar is busy with electioneering for the past 5 years. Let his cronies and funders keep plundering the economy.
Aditya Singh
Replied to Liju Philip comment 2 years ago
Hello covert devotee. First read the article, then get some financial education.

"In a shocking revelation of new information, it turns out that the government of India, in 2009"

Don't worry NSE Co-Location, ILFS and thousands of other scams from the Congress regime will face the light of the day. Shit stinks, can't be hidden long.

And to you my dear friend, Devotee of a man born to a virgin woman, Your Pappu and Librand fauj won't get a second chance at scamfest.
Zebulin
Replied to Aditya Singh comment 2 years ago
Would you be offended if someone calls you a pen#s worshipper ? Bharat Mata ki Jai!!
K V RAO
Replied to Aditya Singh comment 2 years ago
In a democracy anybody can say anything. But language used should not hurt anyone, even your enemies.

K V RAO
Replied to K V RAO comment 2 years ago
Ref is to Liju and not to Singh
Vivek Naik
Replied to K V RAO comment 2 years ago
Are you sure?
K V RAO
Replied to Vivek Naik comment 2 years ago
Yes
K V RAO
Replied to Aditya Singh comment 2 years ago
Good articulation Singh Sir.
Sunil shenava
2 years ago
lack of diligence on part of all the parties involved..
Sridhar Reddy
2 years ago
Please get the crook Ravi Parthasarathy back into India and put him behind bars. He and his coterie ran the institution as their personal property with zero professionalism. Ravi is a bigger swine than Vijay Mallya as in this case, so many PF funds have put their money in IL&FS bonds exposing to risk the hard earned money of millions of employees. Also question the credit rating agencies - are they blind and ignorant, which they will say yes !!!
Bharat Galgali
2 years ago
What is root cause of scandle its in principle approval, rest follows the formality.

K V RAO
Replied to Bharat Galgali comment 2 years ago
Rest is not a formality but a substance. In principle approval pertains to clearance from funds and discretionary angles.
RAMACHANDRAN THARKABHUSHANAM
2 years ago
It is surprising that UPA's blunder is covered up by NDa. STRANGE BED FELLOWS
Aditya Singh
Replied to RAMACHANDRAN THARKABHUSHANAM comment 2 years ago
Sometimes a mess is discovered only once it's a mess. The NSE Co-location shitshow feat. Karti is another one of these. God alone knows what landmines from the UPA era haven't blown up yet. I remember in the 1st year of post UPA Govt. mentioned that UPA has laid several landmines in the economy. I'm sure if someone digs out Govt. bonds issued during UPA for deferring payments to oil companies and calculates the debt created thanks to the interests; they'd be shell shocked.
Vivek Naik
Replied to Aditya Singh comment 2 years ago
IlFS is also involved in Gujarat Gift city project.

Both Bjp and Congress are have helped this corrupt company.
Vivek Naik
Replied to Aditya Singh comment 2 years ago
IlFS is also involved in Gujarat Gift city project.

Both Bjp and Congress are have helped this corrupt company.
Krishna Kumar B
Replied to RAMACHANDRAN THARKABHUSHANAM comment 2 years ago
It is vice versa
Krishnamurthy Nagarajan
2 years ago
SD probably feigns ignorance about the difference between in principle approval and sanction. Even if a loan is sanctioned, there has to be a review before the loan is released. This is the norm for the bankers (as the assumptions made at the time of sanction may not be valid at the time of release.) Many bankers are charged on this principle. Why not the Govt in power in 2009?.
Sucheta Dalal
Replied to Krishnamurthy Nagarajan comment 2 years ago
Feign ignorance? How do you jump to that conclusion. I am only clarifying to readers that we should not jump to make this a political issue -- all are complicit. So let's not pretend it it is a UPA scam. The principle here is that private sector projects had no business being given a sovereign guarantee without a proper public discussion. If we want to charge the govt of 1999 -- to suit your political inclinations -- why not that of 2001 which approved in principle??
K V RAO
Replied to Sucheta Dalal comment 2 years ago
You are again taking up in principle approval. Those who are familiar with bank loan operations vouch for " zero value" for in principle approval. As I had mentioned earlier "in principle approval" at best implies administrative clearance from funds and exposure angles.
Ramesh Bajaj
Replied to Sucheta Dalal comment 2 years ago
What is the way forward now? I think your judgement is correct...all are complicit.
jaideep suri
Replied to Sucheta Dalal comment 2 years ago
Yes SD is right all are involved in this especially the IAS which participated in creation of a myth that it is a government entity.
Harish
2 years ago
Great Investigative Journalism!
CHATHANTARA GOPALAN PRADEEP KUMAR
2 years ago
Sovereign guarantees once issued have to be honoured when they are invoked. Otherwise the credibility of Indian Govt and the credit rating of India would be impaired.

The above fact should not in any manner sidetrack the investigations to bring all the rent-seekers in the ILFS scandal to book. Parthasarathy and his cabal knew well how to work the system. By rewarding many civil servants with board positions and perks he appears to have insulated himself from all harm and built ILFS to a position where it is probably too big to fail !!

The largest share of the blame must however be firmly placed at the doors of credit rating agencies and auditors who have simply abdicated their responsibilities.

Hopefully when the perpetrators of the massive scandals at ILFS are brought to book, the key credit rating personnel and auditors should also be subject to exemplary punishment.

Moneylife must be complimented for its unremitting reportage on ILFS which appears to be sadly receding
from the business press in India.

A story is now overdue about the key personnel who credit rated and audited the ILFS (besides the ILFS Board members).
Meenal Mamdani
2 years ago
Why is the current BJP govt not making this problem public? This looting was done by the previous govt Congress led UPA II. Why is Modi going soft on the Gandhis when this could be great news to assure election victory? Is it I will shield you if you will shield me? Do Indians have any honest bankers, administrators and politicians left?
Suketu Shah
Replied to Meenal Mamdani comment 2 years ago
well said but 99% of the battle between congress and bjp can be termed as a 'friendly match" just to fool the public.In vain though.
Vivek Naik
Replied to Suketu Shah comment 2 years ago
:-)
jaideep suri
Replied to Meenal Mamdani comment 2 years ago
some where the roots also touch the earlier BJP government and hence keeping quiet makes political sense.I reiterate once again IAS lobby is the one which created this so called company which is neither here nor there--Pvt/Govt.
sundar
Replied to Meenal Mamdani comment 2 years ago
Powerful beuracracy is involved in this. That's why even Modi is afraid of touching them. In coal scam, just two years imprisonment was given to former secretary. For that the IAS association has written a protest letter to government.
AAR
2 years ago
There are several companies which the public do not know whether it is Private or Government entity. Maybe we can add letter "G" at the end of the name of all Government owned entities.
K V RAO
2 years ago
Sovereign guarantee was issued in 2009 during UPA-II period. Does the writer means to say that the present Government should have dishonored the claim under the guarantee? Is it possible? Accountability should be traced to 2009 and not now. Why the writer has not commented on this issue and straight away jumped to irrational conclusion finding fault with the current dispensation? Please, please do not mislead us.
Sucheta Dalal
Replied to K V RAO comment 2 years ago
Please read carefully before jumping to defend this government. And ADB document says that the in-principle approval for a sovereign guarantee was given as far back as 2001. Only sanctioned in 2009. So please think about who was in power at that time. Maybe it explains the secrecy and silence!!

I had actually put in a line that this was a legacy issue until I saw that ADB document. It is in the link. Some readers who have so many questions can take trouble to read.

And, like S Balakrishnan says -- I am surprised that so many people seem to think a sovereign guarantee can be dishonoured.

That it was given in the first place for a private company project has to be questioned!!

If there are many such HIDDEN guarantees for projects of Ambani (anil and mukesh), Adani, Videocon and others, we would be in serious trouble -- even if they were routed through cover institutions such as ILFS, IDBI, EXIM Bank or any other.

We the people dont seem to be waking up to ask questions even after so many provident funds and mutual funds, which involves the retirement savings of many readers are affected!!!!
Manojkumar Das
Replied to Sucheta Dalal comment 2 years ago
True
K V RAO
Replied to Sucheta Dalal comment 2 years ago
I am happy when you admit that 2001 Government gave in-principle approval but it was actually sanctioned in 2009. In principle approval is not the real sanction. In principle approval is referred to as administrative approval in banking circles. It just refers to jurisdiction issues and sanctioning powers. The sanction coming in second stage is done after detailed appraisal. So there have been holes in the appraisal memo. Further the appraisal note has only projections and assumptions. The sanctioning authority should arrange for ongoing verification of performance vis-a-vis projections and assumptions. One such good and quality assessment reveals shortfalls and the authority should initiate checks and balances. It should also be careful about its future commitments and exposures. All these aspects have gone unnoticed in ILFS case and accountability is totally missing. The writer Sucheta,known for sharp writings, has missed out these issues.
Krishna Kumar B
Replied to K V RAO comment 2 years ago
In principle approval is not just a piece of paper sovereign govt. issue to anyone it comes across. Such approval is arrived at afterassessment. Subsequent govt. have to adhere to it, if conditions in the approval are met.
Why eager to exonerate those who issued 'in principle sanction'?
Ramesh Bajaj
2 years ago
If a guarantee has been given, the government has no choice but to pay. But why handle the persons responsible with soft gloves?
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