Amrapali group diverted homebuyers’ money to M.S. Dhoni, wife’s firms

A day after the Supreme Court cancelled the registration of Amrapali Group under the new real estate law, RERA, forensic auditors have told the apex court that cricketer Mahendra Singh Dhoni and his wife Sakshi Dhoni’s companies were used by Amrapali to divert the homebuyers’ money, and that money should also be recovered from them.

The Amrapali Group of Companies paid Rs 42.22 crore to Rhiti Sports Management Private Limited between 2009 and 2015, the court was told. Of the sum, Rs 6.52 crore was paid by Amrapali Sapphire Developers Private Limited.  While Dhoni, also known as Mahi, has a major stake in Rhiti Sport, Sakshi is a director of Amrapali Mahi. Dhoni was a brand ambassador for the group until three years ago.

While summarising a report submitted by court-appointed forensic auditors Pawan Kumar Aggarwal and Ravinder Bhatia, the judges said Amrapali Group firms and Rhiti Sports Management Private Limited entered into “sham agreements” just for making payments to the latter.

Amrapali group diverted homebuyers' money to M.S. Dhoni, wife's firms

Dhoni, who was then the cricket team captain, had faced controversy in 2013 when reports said he held 15% stake in the sports management firm, raising questions about conflict of interest. However, the company later said he had held stake only briefly. The company is run by Arun Pandey, a close friend of Dhoni.

Citing one such dubious agreement, the court said, on the basis of the auditors’ findings: “We feel that home buyers’ money has been diverted illegally and wrongly to Rhiti Sports Management Private Limited and should be recovered from them as the said Agreement in our opinion do not stand the test of Law.”

The auditors listed Amrapali Mahi Developers Private Limited in a list of 10 companies that were created by the Amrapali Group “solely for the purpose of routing funds”

According to the auditors, “the company received share capital [from Amrapali Group] in cash and all the expenses were paid in cash only”.

The court passed its judgement after hearing a batch of petitions by home buyers seeking possession of around 42,000 flats booked in the real estate company’s projects in Uttar Pradesh.