Rana Kapoor, the arrested founder and former managing director of India’s crisis-hit Yes Bank, faces a double charge of corruption and money laundering to the tune of almost $602million.
Kapoor was sent on Sunday to police custody until Wednesday by a court in Mumbai following his arrest.
The Enforcement Directorate (ED) arrested Rana Kapoor early on Sunday after hours of interrogation and searches at his and his daughters’ residences in Delhi and Mumbai. The 62-year-old broke down when he was produced in a Mumbai court.
ED’s lawyer Sunil Gonsalves said at the hour-long hearing the total proceeds of the alleged crime amounted to Rs 4,300 crore, about$602million, and that Rana Kapoor had refused to cooperate with the investigation.
Rana Kapoor denied this. “I want to cooperate with them,” he told the court through tears. “I’m willing to cooperate day and night despite the fact that I haven’t slept a wink.”
His lawyer Zain Shroff told the court his client had been made “a scapegoat” due to public outrage against Yes Bank after the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) placed the bank under a moratorium and imposed a Rs 50,000-limit on withdrawals.
Weighed down by an increasing pile of bad debt, Yes Bank tried unsuccessfully for months to raise the capital it needs to stay above regulatory requirements.
On Thursday, RBI took control of Yes Bank and said it would work on a revival plan. State Bank of India (SBI) said on Saturday it would invest funds to buy a 49 per cent stake in Yes Bank as part of the initial phase of a rescue deal for the troubled lender.
Last week finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman said Yes Bank had granted loans to entities including bankrupt Dewan Housing and Finance Ltd (DHFL).
The bank is the third significant Indian financial institution to unravel in the last six months, following the RBI’s moves to take control of Dewan Housing and Punjab & Maharashtra Co-operative Bank.
According to NDTV, investigators from the Enforcement Directorate are probing Kapoor over investments worth over Rs 2,000 crore, 44 expensive paintings and a dozen alleged shell firms.
The agency, official sources said, has also recovered documents that show some assets of the Kapoor family in London and the source of funds for their acquisition is now being investigated.
The central probe agency that began action against the banker by raiding his residence in south Mumbai on Friday is primarily investigating Mr Kapoor, his wife and three daughters over a Rs 600 crore fund received by a firm allegedly “controlled” by them from an entity linked to the scam-hit Dewan Housing Finance Limited (DHFL).
Kapoor’s firm, DoIT Urban Ventures (India) Pvt Ltd, was alleged to have received the funds when Yes Bank had an exposure of more than Rs 3,000 crore loans to DHFL, already being probed for purported financial irregularities and diversion of funds.
The bank, they said, allegedly did not initiate action to recover the NPA-turned loans from DHFL and the agency suspects that the Rs 600 crore funds were part of alleged kick backs received as quid pro quo in the firm controlled by the Kapoor family.
The ED, officials said, is looking at finding the proceeds of crime during the raids conducted at Mr Kapoor’s residence and those of his wife Bindu and three daughters. It has stumbled upon investments worth over Rs 2,000 crore by the family and the active presence of about a dozen shell or dummy firms used to rotate alleged kick backs, they said.
Oil fell by the most since 1991 on Monday after Saudi Arabia started a price war with Russia by slashing its selling prices and pledging to unleash its pent-up supply onto a market reeling from falling demand because of the coronavirus outbreak.
Brent crude futures fell by as much as $14.25, or 31.5%, to $31.02 a barrel. That was the biggest percentage drop since Jan. 17, 1991, at the start of the first Gulf War and the lowest since Feb. 12, 2016. It was trading at $35.75 at 0114 GMT.
U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude fell by as much as $11.28, or 27.4%, to $30 a barrel. That was also the biggest percentage drop since the first Gulf War in January 1991 and the lowest since Feb. 22, 2016. It was trading at $32.61.
Saudi Arabia, the world’s biggest oil exporter, is attempting to punish Russia, the world’s second-largest producer, for balking on Friday at production cuts proposed by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC).
OPEC and other producers supported the cuts to stabilise falling prices caused by the economic fallout from the coronavirus outbreak.
Saudi Arabia plans to boost crude output above 10 million barrels per day (bpd) in April after the current supply deal between OPEC and Russia, – known as OPEC+ – expires at the end of March, two sources told Reuters on Sunday.
Yetunde Oluyide has run a gift shop in bustling Lagos for nearly a decade, but with coronavirus curtailing imports of Chinese goods, she is losing more than 2 million naira ($5,555) a month.
Oluyide’s reliance on China to fill the shelves of Yetty-Jewel Ventures reflects the close ties between the world’s second largest economy and Africa’s most populous country.
“For the past two months, we have not been able to ship in anything,” Oluyide said. “I’m anxious.”
China accounts for around a quarter of Nigerian imports, greasing much of the country’s supply chain, and is funding and building much-needed infrastructure.
China’s economic health is also crucial for oil prices, which make up more than half of government revenues for Africa’s top producer, and have tumbled more than 20% since January.
At close to $30 per barrel, oil prices are below the $57 per barrel budget benchmark. And on Thursday, OPEC backed the biggest cut to oil supplies since the 2008 crisis, meaning Nigeria could have to reduce output.
Combined with disrupted supply chains and the threat of coronavirus spreading within Nigeria, this threatens to torpedo growth in its economy and boost borrowing costs just as the country plans to return to the Eurobond market.
Nigeria’s Finance Minister Zainab Ahmed expressed concern this week at the drop, saying that if it is sustained, the record 10.59 trillion naira budget could become unsustainable.
“We will do the mid-term review and if the revenues are so significantly affected we will have to do some revisions by way of budget adjustment,” she said.
Nigeria confirmed its first coronavirus case last week, wiping some 300 billion naira ($980 million) off the value of the local stock market. If the virus spreads, and workers and shoppers stay home, much-needed revenue from a higher VAT rate passed last year will evaporate.
Economies across Sub-Saharan Africa, with just a handful of cases, are all at risk. Angola exports the bulk of its oil to China, while Kenya relies on Beijing for billions in infrastructure funding.
Kevin Daly of asset manager Aberdeen Standard Investments, who holds Nigerian debt, said China’s broken supply chain, and the hit to oil, represent a double whammy.
“We have seen the IMF (International Monetary Fund) revise growth down from 2.5% to 2%, but I think it will be closer to 1%,” he said.
Nigeria’s depleted buffers and shaky exit from a 2016 recession, with growth around 2%, could make this setback harder for it to weather.
Moody’s, which downgraded Nigeria’s outlook in December, has warned that its debt, which has ballooned to 26 trillion naira ($85.5 billion), quadruple the 2008 level, made it particularly vulnerable to external shocks.
Last week, S&P also downgraded Nigeria, citing declining external reserves.
This could increase Nigeria’s borrowing costs as it plans $3 billion in new Eurobond offerings. Aberdeen’s Daly said he expected Nigeria would have to pay an extra 25 basis points over the current curve if it sold fresh debt now.
The yield of Nigeria’s 2049 dollar bond rose by one percentage point from mid-February to end-February.
“Nigeria is getting even more vulnerable – quite significantly so,” said Charles Robertson of Renaissance Capital.
For Oluyide, few vendors outside China can offer the products she wants at the right price. But she is committed to keeping her customers happy.
“We are hopeful that the virus will clear,” she said. “But if not, we are already looking at other alternatives.”