Chapter 2: Charlatans in coats

It would not be an exaggeration to say that Senior Kerkar stole the Juhu Centaur from the government and the taxpayers. In fact, he cheated them multiple times while buying the famed hotel. Kerkar was on the director board of Air India which owned the Hotel Corporation of India – the actual owner of the Juhu Centaur. As a director, he formed a sub-committee that includes him to recommend the sale of the deal. Once the board decided to sell the hotel, Senior Kerkar quit the airline’s board the very next day and went on to buy the hotel. This glaring conflict of interest shows that he cheated the national carrier while sitting on the very top of it by being the seller and the buyer. 

Not just that, the government sold the Juhu Centaur to Kerkar for INR 150 Cr but Kerkar only gave INR 30 Cr for the deal while the balance INR120 Cr was financed by bank loans. A year after buying the hotel, Senior Kerkar pulled his trump card – he would go on to enter an agreement to sell the hotel to Siddhivinayak Realties for INR 350 Cr while his original investment was only INR 30 Cr! He then defaulted the bank loans and cheated the taxpayer. What’s more, he would go on to cheat Siddhivinyak Realties, too. 

Siddhivinayak Realties realised that Kerkar already had another legal tussle with Nirmal Lifestyle for Juhu Centaur which would, in effect, nullify any agreements made between Siddhivinayak and Kerkar-promoted V Hotels. The tripartite legal tussle extends to this day and the Tulip Star Hotel never really took off. 

All this legal battle was financed with the money that has been siphoned off of Cox and Kings. Senior Kerkar’s group of lawyers and their courtcraft gamed the Indian legal system to ensure that the hotel stays mired in a legal battle, meanwhile crores worth of taxpayer money was lost in bank defaults, and his partners, at least the legitimate ones, were deprived of the fair share they were promised under legal agreements. 

One cannot help but wonder what happened to all the money that Senior Kerkar had looted from the taxpayers and his partners. It followed the same trail of the loot from the Taj – an intricate web of foreign entities and a chain of suspicious payments linking them – and the name ‘Raima’ stood out of them all for a peculiar reason.

More tomorrow.

Chapter 1: Like Father, Like Son

Before I write about Peter Kerkar, it’s important to write about Ajit Baburao Kerkar – Peter Kerkar’s father – also known as ‘Senior Kerkar’. The man’s exploits are all too similar and could have served as a moral compass, a rather broken one at that, to the way his son did business.

Senior Kerkar was known for establishing the Taj brand of hospitality as much as he was known for his misdeeds at Tata’s board. It was alleged that Senior Kerkar sold Tata’s Hong Kong offshore subsidiary’s stake in Cox and Kings at throwaway prices to one ABM Good who went on to sell those shares to Peter Kerkar! Senior Kerkar also, allegedly, gave lucrative contracts at the Taj for 25 years to Cox and Kings. It was even alleged that Senior Kerkar looted Taj by selling a bunch of his wife’s paintings to the group.

All this was dealt with a heavy blow when Ratan Tata took over as Chairman of Tata Sons; the Tata scion ousted Senior Kerkar from the Tata Group. But that couldn’t stop Senior Kerkar whose fangs had grown deep in the hospitality industry by then. His chicanery was far too tempting and flourishing for him to not have come back into the industry; and he did come back.

Ratan Tata proves his supremacy by ousting Ajit Kerker from Taj Group of Hotels

Senior Kerkar began his second inning as a hotelier with Tulip Star Hotels. Found with little capital, Senior Kerkar’s company acquired the Centaur Juhu – the face of a rather bygone and inert decade that the open-market government in the 90s wanted to breathe life into, through privatisation.

Senior Kerkar acquired the Centaur Juhu under the government’s privatisation plan. The acquisition was financed by loans from a consortium of state-run banks. Not too late after that, Tulip gained a lot of bad press; the hotel was mired in controversy for alleged defaulting of payments, corruption, bad loans, Kerkar serving at multiple boards with conflict of interest, and so on and so forth.

UNDER THE SCANNER – As the debate rages – Ajit Kerkar maintains stoic silence

Hindu Frontline Article – A Tale of Two Hotels

And that’s when Senior Kerkar’s handiwork was revealed to the world – a double-dealing, con-artist engaged in commercial skullduggery aided by corruption at the highest levels of government – a DNA that would become all too evident in the next generation of scams by the Kerkar family.

More tomorrow.

Introduction

The scams of corporate India, despite the decade, have certain elements in common – greed, corruption, lies, corporate jugglery, and betrayal. There are some other things they have in common too, the flight of accused; long-drawn extraditions; and employees left with despair instead of paychecks for their honest, hard work. In every corporate fraud, there are thousand such innocent lives pulled into the desperation and trauma of having to struggle through the loss of jobs, the anguish of being cheated, and so much more.

I’m one such former-employee of Cox and Kings, where one of the largest corporate frauds happened, unparalleled to any scam India has seen in terms of the extent to which someone abused and exploited the system for his own benefits. Peter Kerkar, or PK as I would be calling him in this blog, is the man behind this corporate fraud. Despite cheating his employees and leaving them in the streets, he has been shamelessly blaming his employees for the frauds he had committed.

Fearing substantial harm may come my way, or the fact that one of the employees was allegedly driven to suicide, it is important, now more than ever, that I write this blog anonymously and bring the culprit to light because, rich promoters must realize that employees can do so much more than just suffer in silence, that they can be whistleblowers; so that honest employees who work hard for a day’s pay are not taken for granted, anymore.

Chapter 1 here.