The massive financial scandal involving the guru of Radha Soami Satsang Beas and the Singh brothers, Malvinder and Shivinder, has been likened to a Bollywood movie -- albeit one whose ending hasn't been written yet.
If you browse through the posts in the Radha Soami Satsang Beas category of this blog, focusing on the posts related to this scandal, it'll soon become evident that this subject is complex. There are many actors in this drama, each playing their own unique role.
There's no way to accurately predict what will happen next.
I've summarized the broad scope of the scandal in recent posts, including this one. Because I enjoy legal intrigue, spy novels, and captivating mini-series on TV, I can't resist making some observations about how things could go from here.
To do this, I need to envision the state of mind of the various parties involved in this scandal. What follows are my own views, obviously. Feel free to share your own perspective in a comment, if you like.
Gurinder Singh Dhillon. The RSSB guru is notoriously private. He hasn't made any meaningful public announcements about this scandal yet. He doesn't like photographs taken of him.
Yet the High Court of Delhi recently ordered that the financial assets of Dhillon and his family be frozen in anticipation of those assets being sold to recover money that ended up in the Dhillon family pockets through either fraudulent or decidedly irregular means.
I'm not familiar with how garnishment works in India.
But since the recovered money is going to help pay for a $500 million settlement that the Singh brothers owe to Daiichi (a Japanese corporation), it sure seems that both the High Court and lawyers for Daiichi are going to want to be sure that the Dhillon family reveal all of their financial assets: cash, homes, real estate holdings, etc.
Since Dhillon is viewed as God in human form by his devotees, this is quite a comedown for a supposed divine being. I've never heard of God being subject to a High Court ruling, but there's a first time for everything.
Singh brothers. They're first cousins once removed of the RSSB guru, but appear to consider him as "uncle." Previously Dhillon was a trusted elder advisor after their father died. Now their relationship with Dhillon is decidedly shaky, especially when it comes to Malvinder.
He's filed a criminal complaint against Dhillon, alleging conspiracy to siphon funds from companies once controlled by the Singh brothers, and also a death threat by the guru through his attorney. Malvinder also alleges that Dhillon tried to essentially sell his position as RSSB guru to Shivinder, if Shivinder forgave the shady loans Dhillon and his family got.
It's unclear what the status of the criminal complaint is, which is being investigated by the Delhi Police. I used to think that Malvinder might withdraw the complaint if Dhillon cooperated in returning his ill-gotten money, which totals hundreds of millions of dollars.
Now that the RSSB guru is being forced to liquidate assets by the High Court of Delhi, my suspicion is that Malvinder won't be willing to play nice with his cousin, even if he calls him uncle.
Sunil Godhwani. He was the guru's right hand man and head of RSSB finances, to my understanding. Dhillon used his influence with the Singh brothers to get Godwahni installed as CEO of Religare, a company the brothers controlled at the time. In that position Godhwani orchestrated the fraudulent transfers of money to the Dhillon family and their close associates through shell companies controlled by those recipients of the money.
No one seems to know whether he is cooperating with authorities. If he chooses to talk, perhaps with the hope of getting lesser charges, this could implicate others in the conspiracy, possibly including the RSSB guru and his family.
Since Godhwani is so close to the guru, he may choose not to say much. Of course, other people in Religare and the shell companies that participated in the fraudulent transactions may come forward who don't have any "spiritual" connection with the guru.
Board of Religare. What complicates things is that the High Court of Delhi has ordered that up to $500 million is to be recovered from over 50 entities, including the Dhillon family, their close associates, and the above-mentioned shell companies. As already noted, that money is earmarked to pay the settlement owed by the Singh brothers to Daiichi.
But the new board of Religare, which doesn't include anyone associated with the guru or the Singh brothers, is behind the criminal complaint against Godhwani and others. Religare wants to get back the money that was siphoned out of its coffers.
Now, since reports in the Indian financial press indicated that as much as a billion dollars went into the pockets of Dhillon and his family, perhaps liquidation of their assets, along with the assets of others who got fraudulent money, would produce enough to both pay the $500 million to Daiichi and repay funds that Religare considers it has lost (not sure how much that is).
If that isn't possible, seemingly Religare would be more motivated to have those responsible for the fraudulent activity to be legally punished. Which could include the RSSB guru and his family, given that they were directors of the shell companies that participated in the fraudulent loan transactions.
Indian courts and government. It may not be a coincidence that the High Court of Delhi issued its garnishment order against the RSSB guru, his family, and others after the Indian nationwide elections were over. Religion plays a big role in Indian politics, so perhaps this is why the order came when it did.
Regardless, it appears that the Indian government and courts are taking this financial scandal more seriously than some thought it would, given the country's lengthy history of corporate sleaze. After all, India wants to attract more foreign investment.
News that a guru and his family were able to siphon hundreds of millions of dollars out of public companies without facing the consequences wouldn't be a good sales pitch to individuals or corporations thinking of investing in India. Thus I'm quite a bit more confident now that the wrongdoers in this scandal will be identified by authorities and receive whatever consequences they deserve.
Sheetal Talwar. Talwar is an Indian filmmaker who first came to notice in this scandal when he alleged that a death threat was made against him from the RSSB satsang office in Delhi after he tried to recover $1.25 million he'd loaned to Gurinder Singh Dhillon.
Then Talwar popped up again in the news when he informed the Securities and Exchange Board of India that the guru and his family were the primary beneficiaries of about $329 million siphoned out of Religare via the above-mentioned fraudulent loans.
So Talwar is another actor in this drama, as is befitting his role as a filmmaker.