RBI Imposes Biz Restrictions On Edelweiss' Lending And ARC Arms On Evergreening Concerns

The central bank has asked ECL Finance Ltd (ECL) to cease and desist from undertaking any structured transactions in respect of its wholesale exposures, other than repayment and/or closure of accounts, an official statement said
RBI imposes biz restrictions on Edelweiss' lending and ARC arms
RBI imposes biz restrictions on Edelweiss' lending and ARC arms

The Reserve Bank on Wednesday imposed business restrictions on Edelweiss Group's lending and asset reconstruction arms on concerns over evergreening of loans.

The central bank has asked ECL Finance Ltd (ECL) to cease and desist from undertaking any structured transactions in respect of its wholesale exposures, other than repayment and/or closure of accounts, an official statement said.

In the case of Edelweiss Asset Reconstruction Company Ltd (EARCL), the RBI has asked the entity to cease and desist from acquisition of financial assets, including security receipts (SRs) and reorganising the existing SRs, into senior and subordinate tranches.

Both the actions are with immediate effect, the RBI statement said.

"The action is based on material concerns observed during the course of supervisory examinations, essentially arising out of conduct of the group entities acting in concert, by entering into a series of structured transactions for evergreening stressed exposures of ECL, using the platform of EARCL and connected AIFs, thereby circumventing applicable regulations," it said.

In a late evening statement, Edelweiss ARC said it is reviewing the RBI order and assured that it will address the observations mentioned in the RBI order.

"There will not be any material impact on Company's resolution and recovery efforts which would continue normally," Edelweiss ARC said.

In the recent past, the RBI had flagged concerns around the alternative investment funds (AIFs) being used for evergreening of loans and asked financiers to set aside more money for such investments.

The central bank has also been resorting to imposing business restrictions. The regulator earlier barred IIFL Finance from extending gold loans and placed curbs on J M Financial Products.

On the action against the Rashesh Shah-led Edelweiss Group entities, the central bank said incorrect valuation of SRs was also observed in both ECL and EARCL.

The RBI found that ECL had indulged in a slew of wrong practices, including submission of incorrect details of its eligible book debts to its lenders for computation of drawing power, non-compliance with loan to value norms for lending against shares.

There were also instances of incorrect reporting to the Central Repository for Information on Large Credits (CRILC) system and non-adherence to Know Your Customer (KYC) guidelines by ECL, it said.

"ECL, by taking over loans from non-lender entities of the group for ultimate sale to the group ARC, allowed itself to be used as a conduit to circumvent regulations which permit ARCs to acquire financial assets only from banks and financial institutions," it said.

In the case of EARCL, the violations included not placing the Reserve Bank's supervisory letter issued after the previous inspection for 2021-22 before the company's board, non-compliance with regulations pertaining to settlement of loans and sharing of non-public information of its clients with group entities, it said.

The Edelweiss group entities were "resorting to new ways to circumvent regulations" instead of taking remedial action on the deficiencies, the central bank said.

The business restrictions are necessitated because "no meaningful corrective action has been evidenced so far", it added.

"Both the companies have been directed to strengthen their assurance functions to ensure regulatory compliance in letter and spirit at all times," the RBI said.

The restrictions will be reviewed after the rectification of the supervisory observations by the group to the satisfaction of the Reserve Bank.

 "We are dedicated to maintaining transparency and upholding the highest standards of corporate governance and committed to compliance with regulatory requirements," Edelweiss ARC said.

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