Supreme Court asks government to probe $1.08B investment in Reliance Industries

The Supreme Court has sought a report by the government on the steps the latter has taken after the High Commission of India in Singapore requested an investigation around three years ago pertaining to the alleged Rs 6,530 crore investment by Singapore-based Biometrix Marketing Pte Ltd and Strasbourg Holdings in four Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL) companies.

The Indian High Commission, in August 2011, had written to the government asking to enquire the aforesaid investment made in 2007-08 in the Mukesh Ambani-led companies—Reliance Gas Transportation Infrastructure, Relogistics Infrastructure, Reliance Ports and Reliance Utilities—by Biometrix Marketing Pte Ltd, in which Strasbourg Holdings had 91 per cent stake.

During an investigation by Indian High Commission in Singapore, Biometrix was found a “one-room defunct company in Singapore” that does not do any business and was closed most of the time. Following this, Indian High Commission in Singapore wrote a letter to Indian government, asking to enquire the investment.

“We want to know what inquiry was done in the matter after the High Commission’s letter,” a bench headed by justice BS Chauhan told Solicitor General Mohan Parasaran, while hearing pleas challenging the government's decision to double the price of natural gas and seeking cancellation of RIL’s contract for exploration of oil and gas from KG-D6 block.

Earlier in February this year, Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), during a press conference, sought an investigation with regards the investment in four RIL companies citing a letter written by the High Commission of India in Singapore in August 2011 that said “The investment needs to be examined.”

In a response, RIL refuted all the allegations made by AAP. "The investments by Biometrix were open, transparent and perfectly legitimate transactions in full compliance with the extant regulations. These investments in the Indian companies were made by Biometrix out of loans raised from ICICI Bank, Singapore branch,” RIL had said in a statement.

Meanwhile, Prashant Bhushan, an advocate and AAP leader, said recently that High Commission of India had said that major portion of this investment had come into Reliance Gas Transportation Infrastructure Ltd, which is 100 per cent owned by Mukesh Ambani personally.

Also, he stated that Biometrix is a company with no equity, no assets and a small company, which did not even file income tax returns in Singapore, still the investment made by it was single largest FDI into India from Singapore.

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