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Two firms that together invested Rs 28.35 crore in Tarun Tejpal's holding company, Anant Media, which publishes Tehelka magazine, have links to a Jindal group company that is named in a CBI FIR in the coal blocks allotment scandal, an investigation by The Indian Express has found.
Records show that Enlightened Consultancy Services invested Rs 16.75 crore and Weldon Polymers Private Ltd Rs 11.60 crore in Anant Media. Both companies made the first two tranches of their investment on the same dates: June 20, 2008 and November 20, 2008. Both bought Rs-10 Anant Media shares at a premium of Rs 10,623. This effectively valued Anant Media at Rs 93.1 crore while its loss was Rs 21.06 crore.
An analysis of the share transactions (see box) involving Tehelka and these companies shows that between 2006 and 2010, through sale and purchase at regular intervals, Tehelka's management sold shares at a high premium, bought them back at nominal face value and then re-issued these same shares among these interlinked companies.
For instance, Enlightened bought shares at a premium of Rs 10,623 in 2008, sold them back to Tehelka in 2009 at Rs 10 a share and, within days, Tehelka issued these shares at a Rs 2,505-premium to Trinamool MP K D Singh's Royal Building and Infrastructure Ltd. In effect, Anant Media collected a premium of Rs 13,128 for a Rs 10 share.
WHAT IS WELDON?
In the Registrar of Company (RoC) records, Weldon, which holds a 5.87 per cent stake in Anant Media, has the same address as that of a firm named N D Exim Pvt Ltd. N D Exim was named by the CBI in its FIR in June 2013, which also named Congress MP and industrialist Naveen Jindal, in connection with Rs 2.25 crore it
D Exim invested in Sowbhagya Media in which former minister of state for coal Dasari Narayana Rao has a 60 per cent stake.
In the FIR, the CBI claimed that this investment was an alleged quid pro quo for granting coal blocks to the Jindal Group. Jindal has denied these charges.
Weldon's registered address is E-4/77, Sector 7, Rohini, Delhi. This belongs to a two-storey building lying vacant. Stuck on the wall of the building is a piece of paper to redirect mail. It reads: "Suresh Singhal has shifted to a new house in the neighbourhood Pitampura."
Singhal is a director of N D Exim and, in 2006, was also a director of Weldon. Singhal did not respond to calls and text messages.
Weldon's balance sheet shows an investment of Rs 2.08 crore in Tehelka — its first tranche — in the financial year 2007-08. Significantly, on December 22, 2007, Tehelka published a two-page report headlined "Friendly Deception", which alleged that Congress MP from Karnal, Arvind Sharma, had made a "desperate attempt to swindle Congress MP Naveen Jindal of his land and to malign him".
The land in question was 555 acres in Sonepat, Haryana, procured by Duce Properties and Services Pvt Ltd, a subsidiary of Jindal Steel and Power Ltd. That land is now being developed as Sonepat Global City by Jindal's real estate arm, Jindal Realty Pvt Ltd, the new avatar of Duce Properties.
The report alleged that the Karnal MP, who had initially offered to help Jindal in procuring the land, tried to defraud him later. And, "in order to save his own skin, Sharma attempts to frame Jindal in false case," the report said.
According to RoC records, N D Exim, before it invested in Dasari Narayana Rao's Sowbhagya Media, received an unsecured loan of Rs 2.25 crore from Duce Properties - now Jindal Realty. Before Duce Properties became Jindal Realty in September 2009, one of its directors was Surinder Pal Singh.
Since 2006, Singh has been a director of Weldon. He is currently also director in three other Jindal firms: Jindal Power Transmission Ltd, Jindal Power Distribution Ltd, and Jindal Hydro Power Ltd.
Weldon Polymer's other director, Manoj Chauhan, is a director of five other firms that share the same registered address — 1104, 11th floor, 89, Nehru Place, New Delhi — as that of Jindal Realty.
Reached for comment about his group's links to Weldon, Naveen Jindal said: "I don't know anything. I am not part of the day-to-day decision-making of Jindal Realty. My office has already clarified the official position."
A Jindal group spokesman denied any link with Weldon or Tehelka. This despite the fact that, as per RoC filings, Weldon received an unsecured loan of Rs 2.28 crore from Duce Properties (Jindal Realty), which was invested in Tehelka, and in the incorporation documents of Weldon, the official email ID of the company is given as email@example.com.
A second Jindal official who spoke to The Indian Express later, said the unsecured loan was repaid by Weldon Polymers with 12 per cent interest.
LIGHT ON ENLIGHTENED
Enlightened Services is owned by Pradeep Goel, who trades in steel scrap and related steel items, operating from Loha Mandi in Delhi's Naraina suburb. Goel's main business, however, is RKG International, a firm trading in steel. In 2009-10, Enlightened gave an unsecured loan of Rs 2.3 crore to Weldon.
Asked about his Rs 16.75-crore investment in Anant Media, Goel told The Indian Express: "I don't remember the details of my investments, it's been such a long time. I don't know who Tarun Tejpal is. I will get back to you with details."
He did not, however, get back. Follow-up messages went unanswered.
A Jindal Group spokesman confirmed that "RKG International has been Jindal Steel and Power Ltd's customer in the past."
Enlightened received 6,250 Tehelka shares from a firm named A K Gurtu Holdings, a company that doesn't exist in RoC records. But according to Tehelka's records, Enlightened and Gurtu share the same address: 313, M J Shopping Centre, 3 Vir Savarkar Block, Shakarpur, New Delhi.
As per RoC records — first reported by news portal Firstpost — A K Gurtu Holdings bought shares at a premium of Rs 13,189 from Tarun Tejpal, his immediate family and Shoma Chaudhury, with the total purchase amounting to Rs 8.43 crore.
At M J Shopping Centre, a dingy building, there is no address marked 313. Shopkeepers on the third floor said they had never heard of either of the companies.
In 2010, Enlightened exited Tehelka at a loss of Rs 8 crore according to its balance sheet.
Tehelka issued the 22,605 shares of Enlightened to Royal Building and Infrastructure Ltd, owned by Trinamool MP K D Singh at Rs 2,505.
In 2010, K D Singh took 29,139 shares in Tehelka. Of these, he bought 6,534 shares from Weldon Polymers. Both Enlightened and Weldon which bought shares at Rs 10,623 exited by selling the shares at Rs 10.
So Tehelka bought these shares at Rs 10, a total cost of Rs 2.9 lakh, and they were issued to Royal Building for Rs 7.29 crore.
The Indian Express emailed a detailed questionnaire to Neena Tejpal, COO of Anant Media. She said she was not in a position to comment at this time. The questionnaire was also emailed to Shoma Chaudhury, Tehelka's former managing editor. She did not reply.