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‘Hilal Rather owns no properties outside India’

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Srinagar: Reacting to the news reports regarding diversion of loan funds by Hilal Rather, his legal counsel Sunday said that Rather owns no properties outside the country.

“Paradise Avenue, which is a firm comprising of five partners — Deepshika Jamwal, Daljeet Wadera, Rizwan Dar, Ghulam Mohammed Bhat and Hilal Rather — acquired a loan of Rs 128 crores for the construction of flats at Narwal, Jammu in 2012,” Rather’s lawyer Mudassir Raina said in a statement here.

He said Hilal Rather holds only about 30 percent share in the said company while the remaining 70 percent is held by the other four partners.

The lawyers also claimed that around Rs 37 crore have been received back by the bank as repayment against the principal loan amount.

The Enforcement Directorate (ED) has alleged that loan money was siphoned off and used to acquire personal assets in India and abroad.

If indeed money in crores was diverted from the project, as alleged by the ED, “then how is it that more money than the Rs128 crores, provided by the bank for construction, has been spent on it? Out of the total outstanding loan amount, the principal component of the loan for the construction of the project was only around Rs128 crore, rest being interest component during the construction period,” the statement pointed out.

It said anyone with some idea of construction costs in prefabricated steel structures can vouch that more than Rs 150 crores have been spent on the project which can be easily corroborated through a valuation of the constructed project by independent experts.

“The project is not hidden from anyone and stands tall for everyone to see,” the statement said.

Regarding the “false accusation” of existence of properties in UAE and USA, the statement said “it is incumbent on the agencies to liquidate them and make public money good without wasting a single moment. But it would not happen as no such property exists.”

It is also alleged that Benami properties have been acquired. “This is again a totally baseless accusation as no such properties exist; and if they do, it is again incumbent upon the agencies to liquidate them and recover the loss of public money,” the statement added.

The statement said “it is alleged that four loans were sanctioned to the firm without any collateral or receiving the payment for the earlier loans. It needs to be explained that how is it that the bank provided the financial support to the firm twice even when an adverse political regime was in power and no so-called influence could have been used by any of the partners of M/s Paradise Avenue.”

It said “the agency has desperately tried to flog a dead horse by highlighting a so-called waiver of Rs 60 crores through a One Time Settlement (OTS) which was never availed as the bank had suo-moto cancelled the said offer vide its letter dated 20th of October 2018.

“An OTS which was never implemented and cancelled by the bank on its own, how can it be any benefit at all? Despite the serious question marks on the investigations that have been conducted so far, considering the constraints under which agencies have to work, the efforts of the agencies to unearth the truth in the matter are appreciated and it is hoped that ED which is a trusted premier investigating agency of the country, shall live up to its reputation and carry forward the investigation in the matter in a fair, transparent and professional manner in the larger public interest and justice,” the statement said.

It said “if the agencies are in possession of solid proof in respect of the allegations made, let them go ahead with the filing of chargesheet so that the accused are in a position to face the trial in the court of law in a fair and transparent manner.”

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