Hiranandani family feud draws to a close
A long running court case involving an influential real estate group has reached a conclusion of sorts
In what maybe insult to injury, an order was issued by Dubai International Financial Courts to freeze the assets of Darshan Hiranandani in Dubai up to a value of 80 million dollars. Following the directives, Darshan will not be allowed to remove any of his assets from the purview of the Dubai International Financial Center (DIFC) until further court orders. The order came due to a petition filed by his sister Priya Hiranandani Vandrevala who suspected that his father and brother were trying to restructure the assets ownership. This is the second blow to the Hiranandani group after the Bombay High Court directed Niranjan Hiranandani to pay Rs 520 crore as compensation to his daughter Priya for violation of Business Association Agreement (BAA) within six weeks.
The freeze order comes in the wake of revelation of the fact that Niranjan and Darshan had concealed certain real estate projects from Priya, which resulted in losses being incurred by her in the partnership between the three. The revelation came about in 2008 when Priya found out that her father and brother had been working on other projects without her knowledge, which was in violation of the BAA.
The court found Darshan’s claims of Priya forging the signatures of Darshan and Niranjan on the BAA to be false and found her in possession of the original documents. The father-son duo then informed the court that they were unable to retrieve the original documents as the system containing it was damaged beyond repairs. The tribunal has now ordered Darshan & Niranjan to disclose all documents related to BAA.
Darshan had earlier defended himself by saying that he had not given a careful read to the terms of agreement. However, during cross examination he accepted in the court that he did go through the terms and conditions of the agreement signed between the three very carefully.
The Tribunal headed by Cherie Blair (QC) noted that, it had been surprised by the extent of the amendment and the change of position on several matters made over the course of the hearing. The court also noted that there is evidence which supports that Niranjan and Darshan were in the process of actively restructuring the ownership of some assets while trying to delay the mediation with false arguments and disputes.
Niranjan, his son Darshan and daughter Priya entered into a business association agreement in May 2006 and decided to set up joint ventures. The family dispute began in 2009, when Priya Hiranandani Vandrevala stated that her father and brother violated the terms of BAA and claimed millions of dollars in lost profits. A London based arbitration tribunal was then set up to mediate the dispute. The matter was heard by the London Court of International Arbitration in 2010 which held that Niranjan Hiranandani had breached several clauses of the contract. It passed an interim award in Priya’s favour in 2013.