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How Pentamedia Graphics Ltd fooled investors, sold assets

New Delhi: Pentamedia Graphics Limited was once one of India's largest information technology companies. But today, Pentamedia Graphics Limited is "limping" on, with combined revenues of Rs 19 crore, a fraction of the more than Rs 1,000 crore it generated during its heyday.

Pentamedia Graphics and its promoters fooled investors and stripped the company of its assets but still continue to hold on to prime land worth Rs 2500 crore. The company's stock hit a high of Rs 2,130 in February 2000, but are now trading at around Re 1. Pentamedia Graphics was also barred from stock markets in 2005 for manipulation and its stock was part of tainted stock broker Ketan Parekh's 'K-10' stocks,

In 2001, when India's information technology boom was well and truly established, Pentamedia was the fourth largest software group in India.

Pentamedia owner Dr V Chandrasekaran burst into the limelight from relative obscurity. The company's stock prices were booming on the stock exchanges and some mergers, de-mergers and acquisitions always kept Chandrasekaran and his Pentamedia group companies' stocks one of most watched ones on the Dalal Street. With Rs 1,188 crore revenues, he was even talking about taking over MGM Studios.

But the hype came crashing down in 2005, after a Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) investigation found Chandrasekaran in cahoots with Ketan Parekh in rigging up share prices and the market regulator barred Pentamedia from the capital market for two years.

Chandrashekharan moved on as there was no further investigation, but Pentamedia continued to be controversial.

"Pentamedia preceded Satyam. There are several certain similarities in forging balance sheet, non-factual reporting of income and acquisition of assets such as land etc.," said Paul de Souza, litigant against Pentamedia.

Documents procured by CNN-IBN establish a trail of money laundering by the promoters of Pentamedia. One classic case is the loans it took from Dallah Albaraka, one of Arab world's largest financiers.

In 1999, Pentamedia claimed that the company wanted funds to fulfil its contracts with two of the biggest Japanese multinational companies - NEC Corporation and Sumitomo Corporation.

Pentamedia applied for loan from Dallah Albaraka and wanted that its wholly owned subsidiary Pentasoft Singapore Ltd to get the loan.

Pentasoft Singapore Ltd initially took a series of loans worth $30 million in three transactions from Dallah Albaraka and the money was deposited in two bank accounts of Pentasoft Singapore - A/C no: 4055535 of ABN Amro bank in Singapore and A/c No: 001-045020-111 of HSBC Bank in Mauritius.

In September 2000, the final loan of another $10 million was taken.

While Pentamedia slowly started returning the first three sets of loan, none suspected any foul play. In fact, the alarm bells started ringing when they refused to acknowledge the last $10 million loan.

"Our investigation into the Pentamedia Group was started because of our desire to recover the substantial amounts of funds that the Pentamedia Group owed us. During the course of our investigation, we found evidence of substantial fraud by the Pentamedia Group and we leave it to the Indian authorities to follow up on this fraud," said Shezi Nackvi, CEO, Dallah Albaraka.

Pentamedia said it never took any loan, but refused to comment any further. The company told CNN-IBN that it lost money and skills after 9/11 in the USA and bankers sold the assets pledged.

In fact, none of the loans taken by the company or its wholly owned subsidiary in Singapore has never been reflected in the balance sheets of Pentamedia. Like the Satyam scam, the balance sheets of Pentamedia has alleged been cooked up.

But the balance sheets were not the only ones, which were fudged. Pentamedia had submitted six invoices, each of NEC Corporation and Sumitomo Corporation to apply for the loans from Dallah Albaraka.

In 2010, both the Japanese giants confirmed in the letters to Dallah Albaraka that the invoices submitted by Pentamedia were forged. In fact, both the companies never ever had any business dealings with Pentamedia.

Source: IBN Live

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