The tumultuous saga of former Indian billionaires Malvinder and Shivinder Singh seems to be entering a decisive stage.
Scions of one of the nation’s most prominent business families, the Singh brothers were arrested and brought into a New Delhi trial court to face charges of fraudulently diverting nearly $337 million from a lender they controlled. The arrests send a signal that even the nation’s elite won’t be spared as India gets increasingly vigorous in its crackdown on delinquent borrowers.
The scene marked a new low in the precipitous fall of a multi-billion dollar business empire that included India’s top drug maker and second-largest hospital chain. The accused will be held in police custody till they are produced before the trial court on October 15.
During this time the accused can move the higher court for release from custody.
“At the end of the day, karma will catch up,” said Shriram Subramanian, founder of Bangalore-based shareholder advisory firm InGovern.
“Businessmen need to think that economic offenses are no longer pardonable. I think that sends a strong signal.” From money routed to a powerful Indian spiritual leader to a fraud case playing out across three countries and an alleged physical altercation, the arrest of the Singh brothers comes amid a drive to weed out suspected corruption and fraud by Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led government.
As Indian banks look to clean up what’s become the world’s worst soured-loan mess among major economies, government agencies are also cracking down on defaulting borrowers or those accused of malfeasance.
The detainment of the Singh brothers marks the a new low point in their long fall from grace. Over the past few years, they lost all of their major businesses to mounting debt and allegedly fraudulent business practices.
They have also bickered with each other, with Malvinder in the past accusing Shivinder and the pair’s spiritual guru of defrauding the family holding company.