Congress leader Kapil Sibal on Sunday asked if Prime Minister Narendra Modi would be open to calling for an investigation of Jay Amitbhai Shah, son of Bharatiya Janata Party President Amit Shah, after a news report revealed his company had a huge spike in revenues the year after Modi came to power. A report in the Wire details the growth of Jay Shah’s company, Temple Enterprise Private Ltd, from revenues of Rs 50,000 in 2014-’15 to Rs 80.5 crore in 2015-’16. The report also reveals a number of loans received by companies connected to Jay Shah, based on documents filed with the Registrar of Companies.
According to filings with the Registrar of Companies, Jay Shah’s Temple Enterprise is engaged in wholesale trade, primarily of agricultural products like desi chana and coriander seeds, the report said. The Wire reported that the company’s massive spike in revenues came in the same year that it received an unsecured loan of Rs 15.78 crore from a financial services firm owned by Rajesh Khandwala, who is the in-law of Parimal Nathwani, a BJP-supported Rajya Sabha Member of Parliament and senior executive of Reliance Industries.
Khandwala’s firm, KIFS Financial Services, extended the Rs 15.78 crore unsecured loan to Temple Enterprise despite having a revenue of just Rs 7 crore that year. The Wire reports that KIFS’ annual report did not reflect this loan, although it is listed in the documents filed by Temple Enterprise.
Responding to questions from the Wire, Manik Dogra, Jay Shah’s lawyer, did not dispute any details about the company’s public filings with the registrar. Dogra did however write to say that the Wire’s “questionnaire indicates that your intention is to drag him into a false and a manufactured controversy. Any slant or imputation which alleges or suggests any impropriety on his part will not only be false but also malicious and defamatory.” Jay Shah himself, as well as Rajesh Khandwala of KIFS, did not respond to the Wire’s questions.
The increase in revenues from Rs 50,000 in 2014-’15 to Rs 80.5 crore the next year, according to the registrar filings, came from “sale of products” including Rs 51 crore of foreign earnings, compared to none the previous year. In October 2016, however, Temple Industries stopped its business activities because they had “resulted in losses”, Dogra wrote. The Wire reported showing that the company had recorded a loss of Rs 1.4 crore.
In addition, based on registrar documents, the website also reported that Kusum Finserve, a limited liability partnership in which Jay Shah owns a 60% stake, received a Rs 10.35 crore from the Indian Renewable Energy Development agency, a public sector enterprise, for a 2.1 MW wind energy plant worth Rs 15 crore in Madhya Pradesh. Kusum received this loan despite having no experience in the infrastructure or electricity sector, and is according to Shah’s lawyer, involved in “trading in stocks and shares, import and export activities and distribution and marketing consultancy services”.
Update: Union Railway Minister and senior BJP leader Piyush Goyal held a press conference on Sunday afternoon denying any impropriety on Jay Shah’s behalf, and announcing that he would be filing a civil and criminal defamation case against the author, editor and owner of the Wire. Goyal did not point out any error in the article, but insisted that Jay Shah’s business activities are all above board.
Jay Shah also released a statement calling the article “slanted” and “damaging” to his reputation, without pointing out any specific portion of the Wire story. The statement mentions that he will filing a criminal defamation complaint against the website as well as a civil defamation suit seeking damages of Rs 100 crore.