The Supreme Court on Friday allowed Enforcement Directorate (ED) to attach properties of US-based JP Morgan and its directors to the extent of the amounts allegedly diverted by the now-defunct Amrapali group from homebuyers in violation of the Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA) and FDI norms.
Based on the submission made by the ED that it has prima facie identified Rs 187 Crores in the accounts of JP Morgan as proceeds of crime under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA), the SC lifted the embargo created as per order passed on December 2, 2019 not to attach the property of J.P. Morgan and its Directors.
"It was also pointed out by Mr. Sanjay Jain, learned ASG appearing for the Enforcement Directorate that in the criminal investigation made against J.P. Morgan, they have prima facie found the proceeds to the extent of Rs. 187 Crores and for that, they have to proceed against J.P. Morgan and its Directors and as such, attachment is required to be made to aforesaid extent. We lift the embargo created vide order dated 2nd December, 2019 not to attach the property of J.P. Morgan and its Directors. We permit the Enforcement Directorate to attach the Bank Accounts of J. P. Morgan as well as any other property belonging to J.P. Morgan and its Directors to the extent required", ordered a bench comprising Justices Arun Mishra and U U Lalit.
The Court also asked Additional Solicitor General Vikramjeet Banerjee to obtain instructions as to release of an amount of Rs.500 Crores by way of loan under the scheme of the Government of India to revive the stalled Amrapali project so that work.
The Addl SG told the bench that a meeting is scheduled in finance ministry on the issue and he would inform the concerned authorities of the views expressed by the court.
The Court also directed the DRT to transmit the rent which they have received from property that has been attached to the Amrapali Account maintained by the SC Registry.
Senior Advocate R Venkatramani, the Court-appointed receiver in the case, suggested that GST should be waived by the Government of India considering the dispute in the matter. Alternatively, it was submitted that GST dues may be kept in abeyance. It was also pointed out by the receiver that sale of FAR may be directed so as to fetch the amount for the purpose of construction.
The Addl SG told the Court that the suggestions given by court appointed receiver are being looked into.
The matter will be next considered on May 27.
On July 23 last year, the SC had ordered cancellation of Amrapali Group's registration under RERA and ordered a probe by the ED into allegations of money laundering, in pleas filed by several homebuyers seeking possession of around 42,000 flats booked in Amrapali Group projects. .
"The money of the home buyers has been diverted. The directors diverted the money by the creation of dummy companies, realising professional fees, creating bogus bills, selling flats at an undervalued price, payment of excessive brokerage etc. They obtained investment from JP Morgan in violation of FEMA and FDI norms," the top court had said.
It had said the equity shares of the group were purchased at an exorbitant price to suit the requirements of JP Morgan and the Amrapali Zodiac Developers Pvt Ltd had diverted home buyers' funds.
"The shares were overvalued for making payments to JP Morgan. It was adopted as a device for siphoning off the money of the home buyers to foreign countries," the top court had said as it accepted the reports of forensic auditors.
The apex court had then directed the ED that the investigation should be carried out impartially, properly and expeditiously within a period of three months.
The Court also directed the NBCC to take over the stalled project.
This was after Noida and Greater Noida authorities submitted that they lacked the expertise and resources to complete the projects. They had requested the court to hand over the project to a reputed builder under the supervision of a high-powered commitee constituted by the Court.