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Last Updated : Jun 24, 2020 07:15 AM IST | Source: Moneycontrol.com

CBI registers FIR against Videocon chief Venugopal Dhoot

A preliminary inquiry revealed that unknown officials of the Petroleum Ministry, ONGC Videsh, Oil India Limited, BPRL (a subsidiary of BPCL) and a consortium of banks (including the SBI, IDBI Bank and ICICI Bank) led by SBI, allegedly colluded with directors and promoters of Videocon Mozambique Rovuma 1 Limited, a subsidiary of Videocon Hydrocarbon Holdings Limited.

The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on June 23 booked Videocon chief Venugopal Dhoot on allegations of corruption in the financing of the company's oil and gas assets in Mozambique.

A preliminary inquiry revealed that unknown officials of the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas, ONGC Videsh, Oil India Limited, Bharat Petroleum Resources Limited (a subsidiary of BPCL) and a consortium of banks (including the State Bank of India (SBI), IDBI Bank and ICICI Bank) led by SBI, allegedly colluded with directors and promoters of Videocon Mozambique Rovuma 1 Limited (VMRL), a subsidiary of Videocon Hydrocarbon Holdings Limited (VHHL). The findings show that in 2008 VHHL, a subsidiary of the Videocon Industries Limited (VIL), acquired 10 percent "participating interest" in oil and gas block in Rovuma Area 1 block, Mozambique, from the US-based Anadarko.

This was later acquired by ONGC Videsh Limited and Oil India Limited in January 2014, for $2,519 million, officials told news agency PTI.

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A standby letter of credit (SBLC) facility of $2773.60 million was sanctioned to VHHL in April 2012 by a consortium of banks led by SBI. This, as per the inquiry, was given for the purpose of appraisal and development of their overseas oil and gas asset in Mozambique, Brazil and Indonesia and other funding requirements in relation to the said oil and gas asset and for the refinancing of existing facilities.

VHHL, a company registered in the Cayman Islands dealing in oil and gas business, operates as a holding company of the Videocon Industries Limited (VIL). The inquiry also brought to light that Venugopal Dhoot is the Chairman and Managing Director of VHHL.

The SBLC facility of $1103 million was refinanced which included an outstanding of $400 million to Standard Chartered Bank (SCB), London.

"The first charge on VIL's oil and gas asset was a part of SCB's security," the FIR said.

About 10 months later, VIL told the consortium that SCB loan has increased to $530 million, requesting to pay it and take over charge of oil and gas assets. The consortium allegedly approved the increased amount without any verification or inquiry, the agency said.

After the payment, the consortium should have taken the charge on the gas and oil assets of VIL and the loan account of SCB should have been closed by VHH, it said. Neither the consortium created the charge on oil and gas assets nor did VHHL close the loan account with SCB, it alleged.

Videocon did not inform the consortium that it was continuing to avail loan from the SCB and the lenders also did not ask for NOC from SCB about the closure, it said. The consortium never took charge of Mozambique assets and the charge of Indonesia and Brazil was taken over in November 2013 only from SCB, it said.

ONGC Videsh and Oil India needed no objections' from lending banks before making payments for Mozambique assets then in November 2013 VIL asked the consortium to pay outstanding of SCB London from the sale proceeds, it said.

The consortium did not object that it had already paid the outstanding of SCB in February 2013, the agency alleged.

The consortium agreed to clear the outstanding dues towards the SCB, subject to a cap of $650 million but instead ended up paying $704.45 million to SCB, London, from sale proceeds in connivance with bank officers, it alleged. The agency found that VIL diverted funds of SCB, London, only spending $374 million, $554.82 million and $25.25 million on its assets in Mozambique, Indonesia and Brazil respectively as against the facility of $1616 million availed by VHHL, it said.

"The facts and circumstance prima facie show that unknown officers of lender banks led by SBI in conspiracy with Venugopal Dhoot, CMD of Videocon Industries Limited allowed VHHL, to continue to the avail the facility from SCB, London, with dishonest intention by not creating charge on Mozambique asset and thereby cause wrongful gain to Videocon and wrongful loss to Indian PSU banks," it alleged.

(With inputs from PTI)
First Published on Jun 23, 2020 09:58 pm
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