The Economic Crimes Wing (EOW) of the Mumbai Police has filed a fourth First Information Report (FIR) against Talwalkars – India’s largest chain of gyms and health clubs – for allegedly committing fraud involving the Syrian Catholic Bank up to ₹28.40 crore.
The Talwalkars were accused of fraudulently obtaining a loan from the bank and using the funds for other purposes. The health club chain is now facing criminal cases involving a total amount of ₹450 crores of overdue loans.
The Banking-3 unit of the EOW recently registered the FIR against the directors of Aspire Fitness Private Limited, a subsidiary of Talwalkars Group, the directors of Talwalkars Health Club Private Limited and the Chennai-based companies – Gympac Fitness System Private Limited, Nitash Engineering and Consulting Private Limited. The FIR is registered on the basis of a complaint by Rammohan Sharda, director of the Fort branch of the Syrian Catholic Bank.
He alleged that Aspire Fitness Private Limited and Talwalkars Health Club Private Limited took a loan from them in 2018 to open 20 gyms in the cities of Mumbai, Nashik and Pune. For the gymnasiums, the two companies offered to source equipment from Gympac Fitness System, Chennai and another Chennai-based company, Nitash Engineering and Consulting, who were to carry out the interior works.
After the accused company sent proforma invoices, the bank sanctioned a total of ₹37.50 crore and transferred ₹28.40 crore to Gympac Fitness System and Nitash Engineering and Consulting.
In May 2019, when the complaining bank deposited a security check issued by the borrowing company, it was refused because the signature on the check did not match the signature on file with the beneficiary bank. The borrowing company issued another check in August 2019. This one too, declined due to insufficient balance.
The bank then launched an investigation and found that Aspire Fitness had instructed Gympac Fitness Systems to issue a pro forma invoice for ₹28 crores on behalf of Aspire Fitness. And when the loan money was credited to Gympac Fitness System account as instructed by Talwalkars, Gympac Fitness System was transferred ₹20.76 crore to the account of Grow Fitter Private Limited, a company associated with the Talwalkars group and ₹3 crores to the Talwalkars group.
Grow Fitter then transferred the money to the Talwalkars group. Gympac Fitness System has not supplied any gym equipment to Aspire Fitness. Similarly, funds received by Nitash Engineering and Consulting were also diverted to the Talwalkars.
According to the FIR (of which HT has a copy), Gympac Fitness System and Nitash Engineering and Consulting claimed that Aspire Fitness and Talwalkars submitted forged and forged documents on behalf of their companies to secure a loan and then tricked them into misusing the funds in their accounts. .
The director of Grow Fitter also told the complainant bank that the accused directors of Aspire Fitness and Talwalkars, under false pretences, caused them to transfer money to the Talwalkars group, the complainant said in the FIR.
Therefore, the bank also filed suit against the directors of Aspire Fitness – Girish Nayak and Virendra Shirlekar and the directors of Talwalkars Health Clubs Pvt Ltd – Anant Gawande, Harsha Bhatkal, Prashant Talwalkar and Girish Talwalkar.
The EOW has previously issued supervisory circulars (LoCs) against the directors and other senior executives of the Talwalkars group.