Here at the Church of the Churchless we look forward to getting back to our usual faithless programming after the Indian financial press stops writing new stories about the alleged financial wrongdoing of the Radha Soami Satsang Beas guru, Gurinder Singh Dhillon.
But here's a fresh episode in the Dhillon drama that we've been reporting on, a LiveMint story: "Gurinder Singh Dhillon used funds from Ranbaxy sale to buy real estate."
Download 'Gurinder Singh Dhillon used funds from Ranbaxy stake sale to buy real estate'
Now, defenders of the guru probably will think, what's the big deal with Dhillon buying some real estate with borrowed money? Well, let's count the ways it's a big deal.
One. A massive amount of money is involved, a bit over $782 million, if Google translated ₹5,482 crore into dollars correctly. The LiveMint story says:
New Delhi: Businessman Malvinder Singh has alleged that part of the proceeds from the stake sale in Ranbaxy Laboratories Ltd was used by Gurinder Singh Dhillon, the spiritual head of Radha Soami Satsang Beas, to buy real estate.
RHC Holding Pvt. Ltd, the holding company controlled by brothers Malvinder and Shivinder Singh, made loans worth ₹5,482 crore to Dhillon’s family members, their associates or entities controlled by them, and a majority of these was used to purchase bungalows, farmhouses and buildings, according to the complaint filed by Malvinder Singh with the Economic Offences Wing of Delhi Police in February.
Two. The LiveMint story says that Sudil Godhwani, the guru's close associate, made the decisions to give the $782 million to the Dhillon family and other entities.
Malvinder Singh and his brother Shivinder Singh have been accused of financial mismanagement by law firm Luthra and Luthra, which had investigated Fortis Healthcare Ltd’s books.
Subsidiaries of RHC Holding had lent funds to Prius Real Estate Pvt. Ltd, previously owned by Dhillon’s wife, Shabnam Dhillon, and his close associate Yuvraj Narain Gorwaney, two people familiar with the developments said. The same entity was later owned by Dhillon’s confidants—Rajveer Singh and Gurpreet Sodhi. However, the entity has now moved to two trusts, Jamuntree and Grace Trust.
“When the money went from RHC to Prius Real Estate, it was owned and controlled by the Dhillon family and these decisions were directly taken by Sunil Godhwani as he was running RHC," one of the two people close to Malvinder Singh and his brother said on condition of anonymity.
Emails sent to Dhillon and Godhwani did not elicit a response till press time.
Three. The criminal complaint filed against Gurinder Singh Dhillon by Malvinder Singh describes how the RSSB guru abused the trust Malvinder had in him, given Dhillon's position as a spiritual leader whose devotees consider him to be God in human form (Malvinder is an initiate of Dhillon, as well as his cousin.)
Here's an excerpt from the complaint that says the guru arranged for Godhwani to be installed as head of a company that gave the fraudulent loans to Dhillon and his family.
Four. A headline in the print version of the LiveMint story gives a somewhat different impression of how Dhillon and his family used the money. "Realty bets" sounds more concerning than "buy real estate."
Seemingly the bets didn't pay off, since if their real estate deals had been successful, one would think they'd be able to repay the fraudulent loans that illegally sucked money out of publicly held companies -- whose shareholders, not surprisingly, now want the money returned. (This image came from the person who emailed me a link to the LiveMint story.)