The government on Tuesday said three firms of the Anil Ambani group — Reliance Infrastructure, Reliance Natural Resources and Reliance Communication — have violated overseas debt norms.

The matter pertaining to Reliance Infrastructure has been referred to the Enforcement Directorate over non-payment of penalty and that of RNRL for further probe, also by ED.

In a written reply in the Rajya Sabha, Minister of state for Finance Namo Narain Meena said end-use violations have been observed by RBI in respect of two external commercial borrowing transactions by Reliance Infrastructure — 360 million dollars and 150 million dollars.

The company brought the proceeds raised through the ECBs to India and kept these invested in debt mutual funds, pending utilisation for the declared end-use in gross violation of the existing guidelines, he said.

A penalty of Rs. 124.68 crore was imposed on Reliance Infrastructure, he said, adding that since it did not pay the penalty in accordance with the rules and provisions of FEMA, the violations were referred to the Directorate of Enforcement (DoE) in December, 2008 for adjudication.

Reliance Natural Resources Ltd issued foreign currency convertible bonds of 300 million dollars for the purpose of project under the automatic route. As much as $275 million were brought to India in May, 2007 and were parked in debt mutual funds pending utilisation.

Subsequently, in August 2008, an amount of $275 million was invested in a wholly owned subsidiary in Singapore, the minister said.

Since the alleged transactions have a cross-border angle and since RBI does not have privileges of investigation, the issue has been referred to the DoE for undertaking investigation in the matter.

He said a study of audited report for the year 2007 revealed that the unutilised money of Rs. 5,142 crore raised through FCCBs by RCom has been deposited interest free with a wholly owned subsidiary, which in turn has held the same in bank deposits.

After, ascertaining the facts, the company was advised to apply for compounding. The company in its response has stated that the proceeds of the FCCBs were utilised for permitted end-use telecom capital expenditure taking into account the business exigencies and denied any contravention of the regulation, the minister said, adding that the reply is being examined for taking further action.

As per the existing rules, companies which have violated the existing ECB policy and are under investigation by RBI and/or DoE are allowed to avail ECB only under the approval route, the minister informed.

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