Continuing with its crackdown on shell companies, the ministry of corporate affairs has found that out of the 1,313 ‘listed’ companies in its database that have failed to file their annual reports for two years, as many as 736 are not listed on the exchanges.
“The companies were listed as per our database but in reality they were not… They might have sought permission from the ministry of corporate affairs to file draft prospectus for initial public offerings (IPO), but did not complete the process,” an official told FE.
In September, the ministry had sent a list of 1,313 listed companies to the Securities Exchange Board of India (Sebi) to inquire about the status of these companies. “Sebi said these 736 companies are not listed and we can act against them,” the official added.
The ministry has now sent the list to the Registrar of Companies (RoC) to treat them as “unlisted” and take necessary action against them.
The ministry is examining 80 more companies and the total number may soon go over 800, the official said.
In June, the task force on shell companies set up by the government had identified more than 2.25 lakh such firms which are likely to be removed from the RoC in the current financial year. These firms will be struck off under Section 248 of the Companies Act.
Of these, around 50,000-60,000 firms had availed of a scheme for condonation of delay in this regard, opened for five months by the ministry, the official said. This was meant to help genuine corporates to regularise their delayed filing of returns.
To check tax evasion and prevent money laundering especially in the wake of demonetisation, the government had constituted a task force last year.
The task force compiled a database of shell companies by the Serious Fraud Investigation Office (SFIO). The authorities have frozen the accounts of the shell companies which have been removed from the list and their directors have been restricted from accessing the bank accounts of these companies, the government had said.