After studying law I vectored towards journalism by accident and it's the only job I've done since. It's a job that has taken me on a private jet to Jaisalmer - where I wrote India's first feature on fractional ownership of business jets - to the badlands of west UP where India's sugar economy is inextricably now tied to politics. I'm a big fan of new business models and crafty entrepreneurs. Fortunately for me, there are plenty of those in Asia at the moment.
The long arm of the law has finally caught up with Unitech
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Apartment buyers in several Unitech projects have had a tough decade. More often than not these real estate developments were delayed for years even as the company remained evasive on when buyers could expect to receive their apartments. Suitably aggrieved, they filed cases and complained to the police and other government authorities.
Now, the long arm of the law has finally caught up with Unitech. Sanjay Chandra, its managing director as well as brother Amit Chandra have been arrested by the Economic Offences Wing of the Delhi Police for allegedly duping flat buyers in Athena Floors, Gurugram. Details are still sketchy and it is alleged that the Chandra’s routed the money, collected from flat buyers, abroad through shell companies.
The brothers will be in custody for two more days till April 3.
While their counterparts in Mumbai have in the past had to spend time in jail for not delivering apartments, this is the first time the owners of a prominent real estate firm in the National Capital Region have been arrested. In doing so, the police have shown that no one is above the law.
For the Chandras, this is not their first time in jail. They’ve spent time in jail during the 2G scandal investigations when it is alleged that mobile airwaves were allotted at a throwaway price to bidders who’d bribed politicians. Unitech, for instance had no experience in the telecom sector prior to being allotted the airwaves. It was here that the company’s troubles began after the Supreme Court cancelled the allotment and Unitech had to enter into a costly settlement with partner Telenor. Soon after the Supreme Court order work on Unitech’s real estate projects stalled. In January 2015 the two brothers along with father Ramesh Chandra spent a night in jail for failing to refund a buyer for a delayed project on time despite a court order.
As Unitech’s projects have stalled, the number of court cases the company is embroiled in has picked up pace. The National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission website shows there are over 1,000 consumer cases pending against the company.
While it’s anybody’s guess whether the company has the financial resources to build its projects (reading its balance sheet and income statement is pointless as most of the money has allegedly been siphoned of) in the absence of a clear building plan the wait for scores of buyers in Unitech’s projects just got longer.