Malvinder Mohan Singh, former chairman of Fortis Healthcare Ltd. (Photographer: Prashanth Vishwanathan/Bloomberg)

India Is Said to Order Three-Month Probe Into Fortis, Religare

(Bloomberg) -- India has ordered its fraud office to inquire into reports of alleged siphoning of cash at Fortis Healthcare Ltd. and Religare Enterprises Ltd. by Malvinder Singh and Shivinder Singh, who are part of the founding family of both companies, according to people familiar with the matter.

India Is Said to Order Three-Month Probe Into Fortis, Religare

The government asked the Serious Fraud Investigation Office, or SFIO, to submit its probe report in three months, the people said, asking not to be identified as the matter is private. The investigation will also look to identify beneficiaries if funds were diverted, the people said. Fortis hasn’t got any communication about a probe, it said in a stock exchange filing Monday. Religare hasn’t received any communication and has no knowledge of an investigation against the company, it said in an emailed statement.

The Singh brothers took at least 5 billion rupees ($78 million) out of the publicly-traded hospital company they control without board approval about a year ago, Bloomberg News reported Feb. 9, according to people with knowledge of the matter. The Singhs were also accused of “diversion, siphoning and digression of assets” at Religare by New York-based Siguler Guff & Co. in a lawsuit filed in the High Court of Delhi.

Religare had said at the time the allegations were baseless and denied any wrongdoing. Fortis said on Feb. 9 the company loaned 4.73 billion rupees in the normal course of treasury operations, and these entities became part of the founders’ group of Fortis as of the quarter ended Dec. 31 due to a shareholding change. The loans have since been recognized as related-party transactions and repayment has commenced.

The Institute of Chartered Accountants of India, a statutory body that oversees auditors, will be asked to look into Fortis and Religare after the SFIO submits its report, the people said. The Times of India newspaper earlier on Monday reported that the SFIO has been asked to investigate the two companies.

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