It is not often that an analyst gets slapped with allegations of extortion, defamation and conspiracy. Nitin Mangal, a consultant with the Canada-based research firm Veritas, never thought he would face these charges when he released a strongly-worded report on Indiabulls in August last year.
The co-author of the 105-page report on the Indiabulls Group has already been subjected to more than 100 hours of grilling by the police in Mumbai. On Monday, the Bombay High Court directed Mangal to be present before the cyber crime investigation cell of the Mumbai Police later this week. While the court told Mangal to cooperate with the investigation, it continued with the interim relief that bars the police from arresting the analyst who has shifted, with his family, to Indore ever since the court battle began.
The cops have sent Mangal a questionnaire with 10 questions and have alleged that he has answered only one. The queries reportedly relate to Veritas and its arrangements with its clients making it difficult for Mangal to respond since he was associated with the Canada-based firm only as a consultant.
The police has also seized Mangal’s laptop and have access to his email records. Interestingly, documents running into thousands of pages have already been submitted to the investigation officer by Neeraj Monga, another analyst, based in Canada.
The matter goes back to August last year when Mangal along with Monga released a report titled ‘Bilking India’ on Indiabulls Real Estate, Indiabulls Power and Indiabulls Financial Services. Indiabulls has already filed an intervention application for becoming a party in the case. While recommending a “sell” rating, the report said that the disclosures by all the Indiabulls entities are “unreliable and that the sole purpose of Indiabulls Real Estate is to bilk institutional and retail investors for the benefit of select insiders”.
“The controlling shareholders are running the organisation as a piggybank, while proclaiming propriety and espousing credibility. The association of reputed institutions, individuals and organizations with the company is vexing to say the least,” it added.
Indiabulls was quick to respond, questioning the motive of the report along with some of the facts. The diversified business house also alleged that Veritas — named for the Roman goddess of truth — released the report to a certain select group of people before it was released in the media and to institutional shareholders.
According to the first information report, Mangal along with Monga and Veritas has been charged under Section 384 (punishment for extortion), Section 500 (defamation), Section 506 (criminal intimidation) and Section 120B (criminal conspiracy) of the Indian Penal Code, and Sections 66A and 75 of the Information Technology Act.