I-T probe finds another link between Essar, NuPower: Report

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New Delhi, May 14 (IANS) The multi-agency investigation into NuPower Renewables appears to have widened further with the focus now shifting to another subsidiary, NuPower Technologies, a leading national daily reported on Monday.

Just as in the case of the parent company, the investigation has reportedly unearthed shareholder-level transactions between NuPower Technologies and a company promoted by a relative of the Ruias of Essar, raising confusion and doubt about the real ownership of the company, according to The Hindustan Times.

NuPower Renewables is owned by Deepak Kochhar, husband of ICICI Bank MD and CEO Chanda Kochhar.

IANS tried to reach out to the Income Tax department but despite several phone calls and text messages, the queries remained unanswered.

NuPower Technologies was sold to the Anirudh Bhuwalka-owned A-One Parts & Services in 2016. Bhuwalka is also the owner of AMW Motors and is the nephew of Essar Group’s Shashi Ruia.

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While shareholding details of NuPower Technologies as of March 2017 list it as a company wholly owned by Bhuwalka, he has clarified that though the share purchase agreement was signed in January 2016, the deal was never concluded.

“Based on this agreement, a token advance of Rs 1 crore was paid to NuPower Technologies in March 2016. However as the conditions of the agreement did not get concluded, the transaction did not get consummated and hence no further payment has been made by A-One to NuPower thereafter,” Bhuwalka was quoted by the paper as saying.

He added that the shares have already been transferred to his company which is why statutory filings reflect its owner as A-One.

Nishant Kanodia, another Ruia relative, had invested in Kochhar’s NuPower Renewables, although he exited in 2013 after selling his stake to the Mauritius based DH Renewables, whose ownership isn’t known.

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The Income-Tax Department had conducted several searches related to Matix group Vice-Chairman Nishant Kanodia and others last week in connection with investments by his Mauritius-based Firstland Holdings into Deepak Kochhar’s NuPower Renewables through cumulative convertible preference shares (CCPS).

The raids were conducted with a view to tracing the links between Firstland, NuPower and other related entities in India and abroad.

Firstland is owned by Nishant Kanodia, son-in-law of Essar group’s Ravi Ruia.

Essar Group had earlier clarified to IANS that it had “not made any investments in First Land or NuPower. Further, Essar entities have business dealings with Matix Fertilizers and Chemicals Ltd. on arm’s length basis, and these have no connection whatsoever with NuPower.”

NuPower is being investigated by several agencies since news reports raised questions about the chairman of Videocon Venugopal Dhoot giving a loan of Rs 64 crore to the firm he had jointly promoted with Deepak Kochhar, six months after his group received a Rs 3,250 crore loan from ICICI.

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The I-T Department has so far sent two notices to Kochhar. On April 30, it sent a notice under Section 139(9) of the Income Tax Act seeking an explanation on his personal income. I-T had earlier sent a notice in the first week of April to NuPower Renewables, which was formed in December 2008.

Sources earlier told IANS that the Foreign Tax Division of the department has written to the authorities in Mauritius seeking details of the ownership of DH Renewables Holding Ltd, a major shareholder in NuPower Renewables.

The CBI has registered a preliminary inquiry against Kochhar, Videocon Group officials and others to determine any wrongdoing or otherwise in the sanction of the loan to the Videocon group by the ICICI Bank as part of a consortium of banks in 2012.

–IANS

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