Booked in Mahadev betting case, Dabur Group’s Burmans deny charges

The Burman family, which runs Dabur Group, has denied any involvement or role in an illegal cricket-betting app as alleged by the Mumbai police in a complaint filed last week.

The family said vested interests were behind the police complaint and they wanted to scuttle their (Dabur’s) move to acquire Religare Enterprises, a financial services company.

“We have not received any formal communication on any such FIR (first information report).

“However, we have seen the FIR, which is being circulated to media houses.

“The FIR is patently false and baseless.

“Nothing could be further from the truth than what has been wrongly stated in the FIR,” said a spokesperson for the family, referring to the police document.

According to the FIR, filed on November 7, the Mumbai police have registered a complaint against 32 people, including the promoter of the Mahadev app, under various sections of fraud and gambling.

The police have named Mohit Burman, chairman of the business group; Gaurav Burman, director of the group; and others in the FIR.

The spokesperson said from a copy of the FIR being circulated in the media, the family had noted that allegations were being made that Mohit and Gaurav were directly related to some of the accused.

“Mohit Burman and Gaurav Burman do not even know or have ever met the accused mentioned in the FIR being circulated selectively in the media,” the spokesperson said.

“Curiously, the FIR comes at a time when the Burman Family has sought to increase its existing shareholding of 21.24 per cent in Religare Enterprises and launched a legitimate open offer under the SEBI Takeover Code.

“As part of this, the Burman Family brought to the notice of the Board and the regulators certain governance issues being perpetrated by Rashmi Saluja, the current Chairman (of Religare),” said the statement of the group.

“This FIR is nothing but a step provoked by vested interests in an attempt to block the acquisition of Religare Enterprises by the Burman Family.

“The Burman Family remains shocked at these ‘arm twisting’ moves, which are grossly illegal.

“Nevertheless, we remain resolute that we will proceed with our acquisition of Religare Enterprises as contemplated,” it said.

The Burmans and the board of Religare Enterprises, led by Saluja, are in a war of words, with each camp complaining against the other to the regulators.

The Burmans have made an open offer for Religare. It would cost them an additional Rs 2,200 crore.

The Burmans already own 21 per cent in the company and had made an open offer last month.

But after the offer was made, the independent directors of Religare Enterprises have complained to the regulators, saying the Burmans are not meeting the “fit and proper” criteria specified by them.

The Burmans have said they operate two insurance joint ventures and are meeting all the fit and proper criteria specified by regulators like the Reserve Bank of India and the Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India.

They have raised questions over the Saluja remuneration (including employee stock options), which has gone up substantially to Rs 150 crore since 2018.

Saluja has denied the charges.

The Burmans have alleged Saluja sold shares in Religare at Rs 270 a piece after she was informed in an informal meeting that an open offer by the Burmans would be launched within days.

Saluja has denied that she was aware of the open offer.

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