Legislation UpdatesRules & Regulations

The Insolvency and Bankruptcy Board of India (IBBI) notified the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Board of India (Voluntary Liquidation Process) (Second Amendment) Regulations, 2020 on 05-08-2020.

The Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016 enables a corporate person to initiate voluntary liquidation process if it has no debt or it will be able to pay its debts fully from the proceeds of the assets. The corporate person appoints an insolvency professional to conduct the voluntary liquidation process by a resolution of members or partners, or contributories, as the case may be. However, there can be situations which may require appointment of another resolution professional as the liquidator.

The amendment made to the Regulations provides that the corporate person may replace the liquidator by appointing another insolvency professional as liquidator by a resolution of members or partners, or contributories, as the case may be.

NOTIFICATION


Insolvency and Bankruptcy Board of India

[Notification dt. 05-08-2020]

Case BriefsTribunals/Commissions/Regulatory Bodies

National Company Law Appellate Tribunal (NCLAT): A Bench of Justice Venugopal M., Member (Judicial) and Balvider Singh and Ashok Kumar Mishra, Members (Technical) dismissed an appeal filed against the order of the National Company Law Tribunal. Chandigarh, whereby the resolution plan submitted by the appellant was rejected and liquidation of the Corporate Debtor was directed to be initiated.

The Corporate Debtor had filed a petition under Section 10 of the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016, for initiation of the corporate insolvency resolution process. The application was submitted by the NCLT and Resolution Professional was appointed. On the expiry of the period for completion of the insolvency resolution process, the Resolution Professional filed an application seeking liquidation of the Corporate Debtor. The appellant (Resolution Applicant) submitted before the NCLT that the resolution plan submitted by them was not duly considered. Per contra, the Resolution Professional submitted that no resolution plan was approved by the Committee of Creditors.

After hearing both the parties, the NCLT order liquidation of the Corporate Debtor. Aggrieved thereby, the appellant preferred the instant appeal.

The Appellant Tribunal noted certain facts including that the suspended Director of the Corporate Debtor has been operating the bank accounts of the Resolution Applicant as authorised signatory. The Resolution Applicant also had various transactions with the Corporate Debtor such as transfer of assets, sale of goods and rental income from the Resolution Applicant. Considering these facts, the Appellate Tribunal held that it was established that the appellant (Resolution Applicant) was a related party and was not eligible as per Section 29-A of the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code.

Accordingly, the Appellate Tribunal found no merit in the appeal filed by the Resolution Applicant and dismissed the same. [Global Business Corpn. v. Punjab National Bank, 2020 SCC OnLine NCLAT 95, decided on 23-01-2020]

Case BriefsForeign Courts

Supreme Court of the United Kingdom: A Full Bench of Lady Hale (President), Lord Reed (Deputy President), Lord Lloyd Jones, Lord Sales, and Lord Thomas, dismissed the appeal filed by a bank.

In the present case, the respondent company, “Singularis”, is registered in the Cayman Islands, which was set up to manage the personal assets of Mr Maan Al Sanea. He was the company’s sole shareholder and also one of the directors. The other 6 directors did not have any influence over the company’s management. A loan financing for the purchase of shares was provided to Singularis in 2007, by the appellant investment bank i.e., Diawa. This loan was also the security for the repayment of the loan. In the year 2009, after the shares were sold and the loans were repaid, a surplus amount of money (US$204m) was held by the bank for the account of the respondent company. As per the instruction given by Al Sanea, Daiwa paid out the surplus funds to third parties. The payments were misappropriation of Singularis’ fund and as a result of that Singularis was unable to meet the demands of the creditors. Singularis consequently entered into liquidation. On 18.09.2009, the Cayman Islands made a winding-up order and a joint liquidator were appointed for the same.

Respondent company herein (Singularis) held a certain sum of money as a deposit with the appellant bank (Daiwa). In 2009, the bank Daiwa was instructed by an authorised signatory of Singularis (Mr. Al Sanea) to make payments out of Singularis’ account. The Bank approved and completed the transfers notwithstanding many obvious and glaring signs that Mr. Al Sanea was perpetrating a fraud on the company. In 2014, Singularis issued a claim against the bank for USD 204 million (the total amount transferred in 2009). There were two bases for the claim: (i) dishonest assistance in Al Sanea’s breach of fiduciary duty in misapplying Singularis’ funds; and (ii) breach of the Quincecare duty of care owed by the Bank to Singularis by giving effect to the payment instructions.

The Quincecare duty arises when bankers are asked to make payments in circumstances where there are reasonable grounds to suspect possible fraud. In such a situation, banks owe a duty of care to their customers to refrain from making payments. When “on inquiry” in this way, banks have a positive duty to investigate the potential fraud, they have to be satisfied, by enquiring as far a reasonable banker could be expected to do so, that the payment is not fraudulent before they can be “off inquiry” and go on to comply with their contractual obligations and make the payment.

The claim allowed by the High court was the breach of the Quincecare duty of care. Since Daiwa’s appeal against the finding of liability on the negligence was dismissed, it appealed to the Supreme Court.

The main issue which arose in this matter was, whether the appellant bank was in the breach of its duty towards their customers by transferring the money regardless of circumstances which were suspicious. Also, whether the customer’s claim against the bank was precluded by the fact that the fraudulent acts of the director should be attributed to the customer so as to bar the claim of the customer against the bank.

According to the findings of the case, the judge held that there was a clear breach of Quincecare duty of care by the appellant bank towards the respondent company. The possible defences raised by Daiwa were: illegality, causation, countervailing claim in deceit and attribution. The Court opined that whether or not Mr. Al Sanea’s fraud was attributed to the company, the said defences would fail in any circumstance. It was held that Daiwa was liable to Singularis for its breach of Quincecare duty. It was the appellant bank’s duty to realise something suspicious was going on and a reasonable inquiry should have been done for the same. Due to Daiwa’s negligence, the company (and through the company, its creditors) had to suffer and be victims of fraudulent incidents.

Thus, the claims of Daiwa were dismissed and the judgment of the trial court was upheld. [Singularis Holdings Ltd. v. Daiwa Capital Markets Europe Ltd., [2019] 3 WLR 997, decided on 30-10-2019]

Legislation UpdatesRules & Regulations

The Ministry of Corporate Affairs (MCA) has notified the Insolvency and Bankruptcy (Insolvency and Liquidation Proceedings of Financial Service Providers and Application to Adjudicating Authority) Rules, 2019 (Rules) to provide a generic framework for insolvency and liquidation proceedings of systemically important Financial Service Providers (FSPs) other than banks.

The Rules shall apply to such FSPs or categories of FSPs, as will be notified by the Central Government under Section 227 from time to time in consultation with appropriate regulators, for the purpose of their insolvency and liquidation proceedings.

The Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016 (Code) provides a consolidated framework for reorganisation, insolvency resolution and liquidation of corporate persons, limited liability partnerships, partnership firms and individuals in a time-bound manner. Section 227 of the Code enables the Central Government to notify, in consultation with the financial sector regulators, financial service providers (FSPs) or categories of FSPs for the purpose of insolvency and liquidation proceedings, in such manner as may be prescribed.

Shri Injeti Srinivas, Secretary, Corporate Affairs, stated that the special framework provided under Section 227 of the Code for financial service providers is essentially aimed at serving as an interim mechanism to deal with any exigency pending introduction of a full-fledged enactment to deal with the financial resolution of Banks and other systemically important financial service providers.  The special framework under Section 227 of the Code shall not apply to Banks.  Separately, however, the government will notify specific categories of FSPs that do not fall under the systemically important category and shall be resolved under the normal provisions of the Code as ordinarily applicable to corporate debtors.

The Rules provide that the provisions of the Code relating to the Corporate Insolvency Resolution Process (CIRP), Liquidation Process and Voluntary Liquidation Process for a corporate debtor shall, mutatis mutandis, apply to a process for an FSP, subject to modifications, as under:

  1. The CIRP of an FSP shall be initiated only on an application by the appropriate regulator.
  2. On admission of the application, the Adjudicating Authority shall appoint the individual, who has been proposed by the appropriate regulator in the application for initiation of CIRP, as the Administrator.
  3. While conducting a proceeding of an FSP, the Administrator shall have the same duties, functions, obligations, responsibilities, rights, and powers of an insolvency professional, interim resolution professional, resolution professional or liquidator, as the case may be. He shall be appointed or replaced by the Adjudicating Authority on an application made by the appropriate regulator in this behalf.
  4. The appropriate regulator may constitute an Advisory Committee of three or more experts to advise the Administrator in the operations of the FSP during the CIRP.
  5. An interim moratorium shall commence on and from the date of filing of the application for initiation of CIRP by the appropriate regulator till its admission or rejection by the Adjudicating Authority.
  6. The provisions of interim-moratorium or moratorium shall not apply to any third-party assets or properties in custody or possession of the FSP, including any funds, securities and other assets required to be held in trust for the benefit of third parties.
  7. The Administrator shall take control and custody of third-party assets or properties in custody or possession of the FSP and deal with them in the manner, to be notified by the Central Government under Section 227.
  8. The license or registration which authorises the FSP to engage in the business of providing financial services shall not be suspended or cancelled during the interim-moratorium and the CIRP.
  9. Upon approval of the resolution plan by the Committee of Creditors, the Administrator shall seek ‘no objection’ from the appropriate regulator to the effect that it has no objection to the persons, who would be in control or management of FSP after approval of the resolution plan. The appropriate regulator shall issue ‘no objection’ on the basis of the ‘fit and proper’ criteria applicable to the business of the FSP without prejudice to the provision of Section 29A of the Code.
  10. The FSP shall obtain prior permission of the appropriate regulator for initiating voluntary liquidation proceedings.
  11. The Adjudicating Authority shall provide the appropriate regulator an opportunity of being heard before passing an order for liquidation or dissolution of the FSP.

Ministry of Corporate Affairs

[Press Release dt. 15-11-2019]

Case BriefsTribunals/Commissions/Regulatory Bodies

Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI): V.S. Sundaresan, Adjudicating Officer, quashed the adjudicating proceedings initiated against ABG Shipyard Limited, holding them to be infructuous. 

SEBI examined the status of compliance with the provisions of SEBI (Listing Obligations and Disclosure Requirements) Regulations, 2015, by ABG Shipyard (“Noticee”), whose equity shares are listed on BSE and NSE. During the examination, SEBI observed that the Noticee did not make requisite disclosure under Regulation 40(10) read with 40(9), Regulation 7(3) and 13(3) of LODR Regulations. 

On 8-8-2019, V.S. Sundaresan was appointed as Adjudicating Officer to inquire into and adjudge in the manner specified under Rule 4 of SEBI (Procedure for Holding Inquiry and Imposing Penalties) Rules, 1995 read with Section 15-I (1) and (2) of SEBI Act, and if satisfied, impose a penalty. Accordingly, Notice was issued ABG Shipyard. 

During enquiry, it was observed that the National Company Law Tribunal, vide its order dated 25-4-2019, had ordered the commencement of liquidation of Noticee and also appointed a liquidator therefor under Section 34(2) of the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016; whereas, the instant adjudication proceedings were initiated vide order dated 8-8-2019. 

In order to examine the maintainability of the instant adjudication proceedings against the Noticee, the Board referred to Section 446 of the Companies Act, 1956, and its corresponding Section 279 of the Companies Act, 2013, whose provisions are in pari materia, insofar as the commencement or continuation of any “other legal proceedings”, after appointment of liquidator, are concerned.

Referring also to the decision of the Bombay High Court in Deutsche Bank v. S.P. Kala, (1990) 67 Com Cases, the Board observed: “… it is mandatory and a pre-condition to obtain the leave of NCLT for commencing the instant proceedings against the Noticee, which is under liquidation in terms of order dated April 25, 2019 passed by NCLT. It is pertinent to note that there is no material on record to suggest that leave of NCLT has been taken in the instant proceedings.”. It was concluded that instant adjudication proceedings against the Noticee had been initiated after the order of commencement of liquidation and, that too, without the leave of the NCLT.

In view of the foregoing, the Board held that the adjudication proceedings initiated against ABG Shipyard Limited, vide order dated 8-8-2019, and show cause notice dated 18-10-2019 are infructuous and, therefore, cannot be proceeded with. [ABG Shipyard Ltd., In re, 2019 SCC OnLine SEBI 248, decided on 11-11-2019]     

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: When the 3-judge bench of Arun Mishra, SA Nazeer and MR Shah, JJ was called upon to decide whether under the provisions of Section 109 of the Maharashtra Co­operative Societies Act, 1960 on expiry of the period fixed for liquidation, the proceedings for recovery of dues instituted/pending as against the members, shall stand closed, it said,

“the members who have obtained stay in appeal or on recovery proceedings or the case is pending, cannot take advantage of the fact that the period fixed for Liquidator under the Act is over.”

The Court further explained that once a report has been submitted, the Registrar has to take action in terms of the report and in such circumstances when the proceedings for recovery are pending against the members and the Society has taken loan from the banks for its member, the actual money has to go to the creditor i.e., to the bank who is going to be benefitted by recovery of public money in the hands of members. In such cases it would be appropriate for the Registrar to send notice of the proceedings to a person who is to be benefitted from the recovery. It said that merely on the liquidation of Society, or the factum that the period fixed for liquidation is over, liability of the members for the loans cannot be said to have been wiped off. The disbursement of loan in an arbitrary manner and failure to recover was the very fulcrum on the basis of which winding up of the Society was ordered.

It also said,

“The concept of restitution is a common law principle and it is a remedy against unjust enrichment or unjust benefit. The court cannot be used as a tool by a litigant to perpetuate illegality. A person who is on the right side of the law, should not have a feeling that in case he is dragged in litigation, and wins, he would turn out to be a loser and wrong­doer as a real gainer, after 20 or 30 years.”

The Court concluded by saying that though the Liquidator cannot continue once the proceedings are over. Notice in such cases should be issued by the Registrar to the creditors and to persons for whose benefit recovery is to be made, to continue the pending proceedings in the instrumentality of court/tribunals/recovery officers etc.

[Goa State Cooperative Bank v. Krishna Nath A., 2019 SCC OnLine SC 1058, decided on 20.08.2019]