Hilal Rather doesn't own any property outside country: Counsel

Greater Kashmir

Rebutting a news about diversion of loan funds by Hilal Rather, son of former Finance Minister, Abdul Rahim Rather, to acquire properties outside, his counsel said the junior Rather does not own any property outside the country.

In a statement, he said Paradise Avenue, which is a firm comprising five partners, Deepshika Jamwal, Daljeet Wadera, Rizwan Dar, Ghulam Muhammed Bhat and Hilal Rather acquired 128 crore loan for construction of flats at Narwal, Jammu in 2012. “Hilal Rather holds only 30 percent share in the company. It is important to mention that around Rs 37 crore have been received back by the bank as repayment against the principal loan amount. The Enforcement Directorate has alleged that loan money was siphoned off and used to acquire personal assets in India and abroad. As regards these allegations the most pertinent question that arises is, if indeed money in crore was diverted from the project, then how is it that more money than the Rs. 128 crore provided by the bank for construction, has been spent on it? Of the total outstanding loan amount, the principal component of the loan for the construction of the project was only around Rs 128 crore, rest being interest component during the construction period,” said the counsel.

He 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. He said the project was not hidden from anyone and stands tall for everyone to see. “Regarding the false accusation of existence of properties in UAE and USA, 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,” he said.

The counsel said it was 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. 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,” he said.

He said the agency has “desperately tried to flog a dead horse” by highlighting a so-called waiver of Rs 60 crore through a One Time Settlement (OTS) which was never availed as the bank had suo-moto cancelled the offer vide its letter dated 20 October 2018. “AN OTS which was never implemented and cancelled by the bank on its own, how it can be any benefit at all?” he said. “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,” he said.

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