Thursday, June 29, 2017

Google, Microsoft affected in Rs 15,000 cr Telangana real estate scam

Global search engine giant Google and Microsoft are said to be among the major global and domestic companies in Hyderabad said to be affected after the Telangana government initiated a series of legal cases questioning the legitimacy of the ownership of land holdings, according to an Economic Times report on Monday.
The legitimacy of both private and government-auctioned land holdings have been called into question by the government, ET reported.
The financial daily said that the latest episode that has triggered a fresh wave of panic among investors is the largest land scam in Telangana involving hundreds of acres valued at at least Rs 15,000 crore. After the Opposition raised a hue and cry, the government was forced to announce termination of suspicious land registrations.
The accused in the latest land scam are said to have colluded with land registration officials to corner hundreds of acres of contentious land parcels in Hyderabad's Miyapur and a few other localities. "Hyderabad is one of the worst property market in terms of land records.There are scores of dubious land titles in the city," said ET, quoting the owner of a local brokerage firm in Hyderabad.
The land scam comes at a time when Hyderabad's real estate market was beginning to look up after several years, and for the first time after Telangana state was formed in June 2014, ET noted.
The daily said that P S Prasad, a former attorney of Shapoorji Pallonji group's Cyrus Investments, helped the group get certain title clearances out of thousands of acres of properties that the group bought from the Hyderabad Nizams in 1967. The Telangana government has now accused Prasad of the fresh round of land scams, raising questions about those deals.
In April 2014, weeks ahead of Telangana's formation, Cyrus Investments announced revoking the power of attorney issued in favour of Prasad of Goldstone group, accusing him of fraudulently selling their land assets, ET said.
Telangana Rashtra Samithi's secretary general K Keshava Rao, whose family attained contentious land parcels from Prasad's business entities, last week announced pulling out of the deal after Opposition accused him of amassing government land, the report said.
With such deals, the latest land scam is a major embarrassment with alleged links of the accused to key persons in the ruling party. The TRS government last week issued an ordinance cancelling certain discretionary powers of officials of the land registration department.
Cushman & Wakefield's Managing Director Veera Babu was quoted by the daily as saying that it is time for the government to rethink and examine all existing procedures and make clear titled land banks available for investors.
Shrinivas Rao, chief executive officer (Asia Pacific) of global property consultant Vestian Global Work Place Services, was quoted by the daily as saying that the scam would affect investment flows into the (Telangana) market in the short term. "The land scam has dealt a blow to this upswing and will create uncertainties in the minds of investors and buyers alike," said Rao, in the ET report.
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