Reacting strongly to a story done by a media website that said Coal and Railways Minister Piyush Goyal, in an ‘undisclosed business deal”, sold the entire stock of a privately held company he and his wife owned at nearly 1,000 times the face value, to a group firm owned by Ajay Piramal, the Piramal Group on Saturday said the allegations are “factually inaccurate and libelous”.
“The Piramal Group strongly refutes the false allegations made by The Wire in their factually inaccurate and libelous story dated April 28,” a company statement said.
“The malicious news article published on The Wire is libelous and is an attack on the reputation of the Piramal Group, which is contemplating immediate and appropriate measures, including defamatory action, against the online media entity and the individual(s) concerned,” the company said.
It said: “Piramal Estates Private Limited (PEPL) purchased Flashnet Info Solutions Private Limited, a firm owned by Piyush Goyal and Seema Goyal, in July 2014. The purchase consideration paid was the fair value of the underlying investments (movable and immovable assets) and the same was paid in July 2014 itself. This was based on an independent chartered accountant valuation.”
The Wire story alleged that neither Goyal’s ownership of the company — Flashnet Info Solutions (India) Private Limited — nor its subsequent sale were disclosed in the mandatory statement of assets and liabilities he made to the Prime Minister’s Office in 2014 and 2015.
The BJP said: “The sale of Flashnet shares took place in July 2014 before the declaration of assets and liabilities was submitted on July 25, 2014, and not on September 29, 2014, as alleged by the Congress. This sale was made at full market value as per the third-party independent expert valuation and the entire sale value was received in the bank before submitting the declaration and was fully reflected in the value of assets submitted.”
The Piramal Group said it has a long track record of acquiring businesses that complement, scale up, or grow its existing business offerings and also constantly evaluates any new opportunities to grow in new space.
The group clarified: “The current nature of business of Piramal Group does not involve any direct or indirect interaction with the Ministry of Power or any of its agencies since the Piramal Group is purely in the business of lending to companies (including to those in infrastructure).
“Further, the Piramal Group has not invested in any entity in the power sector till date. Therefore, purchase of Flashnet from Piyush Goyal by PEPL does not, in any way, benefit the existing businesses of the Piramal Group.”
It said the PEPL had complied with the applicable regulations and done the requisite filings while acquiring shares of Flashnet.
“In October 2014, as a part of internal restructuring, then PEPL Directors, namely Ajay Piramal, Swati Piramal, Nandini Piramal, and Anand Piramal stepped down from PEPL directorship. However, the ownership of PEPL continues to be with the Piramal family.”
“The allegation that this transaction was done for undue benefit to the Piramal Group is totally baseless and devoid of any merit,” the company emphasised.