The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has given a clean chit to VGN Property Developers Private Limited, a couple of officials from State Bank of India and former Chief Operating Officer of Hindustan Teleprinters Limited in a case booked on charges of causing wrongful loss of ₹115 crore to the Centre on the issue of sale of 10.46 acres of land in Guindy, Chennai.
Filing a negative final report before a special court for CBI cases here, the investigating agency told the court that a careful analysis of statements of witnesses, and other documents collected during the probe, revealed that there was not sufficient evidence to launch prosecution for the offences of criminal conspiracy, cheating and criminal misconduct.
The court too has accepted the final report and closed the case booked by the CBI suo motu on the basis of “source information” received by it in 2016. The case had been booked against Leon Therattil, the then Deputy General Manager, SBI, Hyderabad and N. Ramadass, Chief Manager (retired), SBI Stressed Assets Recovery Branch, Bangalore.
The three other accused listed in the First Information Report were D.P. Gupta, COO, HTPL; V. Patish Devadoss, Managing Director, VGN Property Developers and the property development firm as such which was now constructing a high-rise apartment to house around 1,000 flats under the brand name VGN Fairmont on the land in question in Guindy.
According to the contents of the FIR, the public sector enterprise HTL had decided to sell 10.46 acres of its land at Guindy in 2006 to settle debts due to a consortium of banks consisting of SBI, Indus Ind Bank, Axis Bank and South Indian Bank Limited. It also obtained approval from the Department of Telecommunications for selling the land.
The property was auctioned online on March 7, 2007 and a firm based in Bangalore emerged as a successful bidder by offering ₹298 crore. However, that deal could not fructify due to objections raised by the State government and consequent litigations.
Finally, SBI initiated proceedings under the SARFAESI Act and the land was sold to VGN in 2013 for ₹272 crore.
Claiming that even the guideline value of the property was as high as ₹ 387 crore in 2013 and that it ought not have been sold by way of a private treaty without holding a public auction, the CBI alleged that a conspiracy had been hatched to cause wrongful loss to the Centre and a consequent wrongful gain to the individuals involved in the sale.
However, now, the investigating agency concluded that it did not have sufficient evidence for proceeding ahead with prosecution. The court too accepted the negative final report and closed the case since there was no complainant in the case and therefore there was no necessity to issue notice to any one before accepting the closure report.