In 2020, Republic TV Editor-in-Chief Arnab Goswami was arrested by the Maharashtra Police after it reopened a 2018 case in which he was alleged to have abetted the suicide of 53-year-old architect Anvay Naik and his mother Kumud. The case came back into the spotlight in May 2020 when the Maharashtra Congress posted a video of Anvay Naik’s widow, Akshata, reiterating the allegation that Goswami abetted the suicides. This case was already closed by the court of law, but then the ruling party reopened the case to harass Arnab because he waged war against the Maha Vikas Aghadi government in those days. Arnab was humiliated, dragged, and threatened, but nothing was proven against him. He was purely a political victim.
Similarly, in the Sushant Singh Rajput suicide case, Arnab’s Republic Bharat harassed Bollywood actress Rhea Chakraborty in the name of aiding Sushant’s suicide. The agencies were also merciless toward her. Then came Disha Salian’s suicide; one minister of Maharashtra was accused of having links with this suicide case, and there were nonstop media debates and political statements that created unrest in Bollywood. In all the above cases, the innocent people had to face a lot of viciousness, jail arrest, and mental harassment, but nothing could be established against them. People forgot all those headlines that rocked the prime-time debates on all the mainstream news channels, and here comes another similar case of Edelweiss ARC and Edelweiss Group CEO Rashesh Shah.
Film director Nitin Desai had defaulted on a loan of Rs 180 crore, and a bankruptcy court had admitted an insolvency petition against his company. Desai’s company, ND Art World Pvt. Ltd., borrowed Rs 180 crore through two loans from ECL Finance in 2016 and 2018. Troubles with repayment began in January 2020, and since then, Desai has been facing financial anguish. The company from which Desai took the loan had taken the legal route to confiscate Desai’s property.
Notably, the NCLT (National Company Law Tribunal), Mumbai bench, in its July 25 judgment ordered “initiation of the Corporate Insolvency Resolution Process (CIRP)” against Nitin Desai’s company, ND’s Art World Private Limited. In the said order, the bench also appointed Jitender Kothari as the interim resolution professional to carry out the steps mentioned under the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016. According to the NCLT order, the petition was originally filed by financial creditor CFM Asset Reconstruction Private Limited against corporate debtor ND’s Art World Private Limited for unresolved debt totaling Rs 252.48 crore. However, the debt was later assigned to M/s Edelweiss Asset Reconstruction Company Limited in 2020.
The order says that ND’s Art World approached ECL Finance Limited (ECLFL) for a loan to the maximum extent of Rs 150 crore, and the ECLFL granted a loan of Rs 150 crore in November 2016. It also states that along with the first loan agreement, various security documents securing the loan were also executed by the debtors, Nitin Desai, his wife Naina Desai, and KND Investments and Finance Private Limited.
Later in 2018, the company again approached the ECLFL for a loan of Rs 35 crore, and while the loan was sanctioned, the corporate debtor availed Rs 31 crore. The total loan, therefore, aggregated to Rs 181 crore. ND’s Art World was classified as SMA-2 in the books of the ECLFL on March 30, 2020, because of irregular and delayed payments of principal instalments. On March 31, 2021, the account was declared a NPA (non-performing asset) as the company defaulted on the entire outstanding amount. On March 31, 2022, the company defaulted on the payment of the second loan, amounting to Rs 33.24 crore.
On May 9, 2022, the company defaulted on the entire payment of the principal of the first loan, amounting to Rs 147.37 crore. The amount outstanding as of May 15, 2022 (in the case of both loans) aggregated to Rs 247.77 crore and was due and payable immediately. However, no payment was received from ND’s Art World despite this loan recall notice, and as of June 30, 2022, the total default amount stood at Rs 252.48 crore.
Special Mention Accounts (SMAs) are categorized by duration. While an account is categorized as SMA-1 when the overdue period is between 31 and 60 days, it is classified as SMA-2 when the overdue period is between 61 and 90 days. Several reports have stated that it was the gargantuan amount of debt that caused him to take the drastic step. Nitin Desai was given enough time to settle the loan, but he was trying for political intervention. Edelweiss ARC and Edelweiss Group CEO Rashesh Shah never spoke to Desai in person or texted anything. His associates were dealing with the matter, and the inside source said they never sent any text, voice message, or any sort of threat or pressure to Desai. They simply took legal action to recover the loan, following the guidelines of the reserve bank.
Soon after the suicide news went viral, Deputy Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis assured the Assembly that Edelweiss ARC and Edelweiss Group, from which Desai had taken a loan, would be probed to know whether he was charged high interest and if he was under mental stress. The inquiry is underway. The announcement by Fadnavis came after Bandra West MLA Ashish Shelar demanded an inquiry into Desai’s death. From here, the owners and associates of Edelweiss ARC and Edelweiss Group started getting threatening phone calls, and there was tremendous pressure mounted on them to come to terms. Whereas the firm owners are already cooperating with the investigations. An FIR has been lodged against Rashesh Shah, and the matter is in court. I am sure the home department, under the able leadership of Devendra Fadnavis, will carry out a fair inquiry without making this case a scoop like Arnab, Riya, or the alleged accused in the Disha Salian suicide case during Maha Vikas Aghadi rule.
60 years old Rashesh Shah is an Indian businessman and the chairman and CEO of the Edelweiss Group, one of India’s leading diversified financial services conglomerates. He is also the co-founder of Edelweiss Financial Services Limited (EFSL). He also delivers many speeches, interviews, and lectures on topics related to financial markets, development, macroeconomic policies, and related matters. He is also deeply involved in EdelGive Foundation, Edelweiss’s philanthropy arm, which was set up in 2008 by his wife Vidya with the aim of providing expertise in the financial sector to the not-for-profit sector.