Rhiti Sports on Monday told the Supreme Court that it paid former Indian cricket captain M.S. Dhoni Rs 37 crore through cheque for various brand endorsement activities. Dhoni was the brand ambassador for the Amrapali Group.
In December, the Supreme Court had agreed to hear plea by homebuyers to pass a direction to recover Rs 42.22 crore paid by the Amrapali group to Dhoni as endorsement fee. Rhiti Sports had managed the former India captain's endorsement contracts.
Advocate for the homebuyers contended before a bench headed by Justice Arun Mishra and comprising Justice U.U. Lalit that Rs 42.2 crore is yet to be recovered from Rhiti Sports.
The apex court in its judgement had directed the recovery of the money from the sports management company. Rhiti Sports filed a plea on the same in the court.
Senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi, representing Rhiti Sports, contended before the court that the company is a sports management company and engages various cricketers and other public figures and the players endorsed the brand when they play.
"I have paid Dhoni everything by cheque. The amount is Rs 37 crore", said Rohatgi. On this submission, the apex court directed the homebuyers' counsel to file its reply. The apex court is likely to take a decision on this matter on the next date of hearing in February 17.
In the July 23 judgement, the apex court had concluded Amrapali had diverted Rs 42.22 crore of the money deposited by homebuyers to clear the bills of then group's brand ambassador Dhoni. Kumar Mihir, one of the advocates representing homebuyers, said the amount was paid to Rhiti Sports, a company which managed the advertisement engagements of the cricketer.
The apex court is yet to pass any direction on this matter, although it had already ruled that all directors and officials of Amrapali and other group companies involved in the matter to deposit the diverted funds without fail in the court.
The auditors observed, during 2009 to 2015, the company Amrapali Sapphire Developers Private Limited paid Rs 6.52 crore out of Rs 42.22 crore from the Amrapali group of companies to Rhiti Sports Management Private Limited.
Mihir also cited July 23 judgment and said the forensic auditors have found that Amrapali and Rhiti Sports had made these dubious agreements and deployed a dubious channel to divert the money to this company. He said that the top court had already accepted these findings on the matter.
The auditors' report said that the agreement signed between the two parties helped the Amrapali group to market its brand through company logos at various places in IPL 2015 for Chennai Super Kings. The report said this agreement was not made official but the deal was executed between Amrapali group and Rhiti Sports, without any signatories representing the CSK.
The auditor report said that the agreements were executed by Anil Kumar Sharma, CMD and as a representative for the Amrapali group. But, there was no resolution on record, which authorised the CMD to enter into agreements as a representative authority of all Amrapali group companies.