New Delhi: Vendors with television marketplace HomeShop18 on Friday claimed that around Rs 150-200 crore is due to them from the company, which the promoters - both former and current - refuse to pay.
Addressing a press conference here, members of the HomeShop18 Vendors Association said that the amount claimed was collected by the company on behalf of the sellers, which they were supposed to pass on after deducting their commission. But, the company did not transfer the money to the sellers, they said.
"Dues have accrued since the time the company was a part of the Network18 group," a statement by the HomeShop18 Vendors Association said.
In June, the company was sold off to a smaller entity Skyblue Buildwell, which also refused to pay the money saying that the dues are from the period of the previous promoters.
"On June 7, hundreds of vendors of HomeShop18 suffered from a shock when they came to know that the company has been taken over by a very small real estate company namely Skyblue Buildwell, which acquired an 82.64 per cent stake in TV 18 Home Shopping Network," the statement said.
Speaking to reporters here, Himanshu Khatter, President, HomeShop18 Vendors Association said: "Till the beginning of this year, the company was running smoothly and the company was on the verge of break even. But in March the vendors were not paid on time and the senior management kept on saying that the CEO Manish Kalra is in Mumbai and discussing with Reliance for funds and they will release the funds soon."
Further, in April, Manish Kalra and Gurvinder Singh, the Chief Financial Officer (CFO) said that as the general elections are on and foreign direct investment is involved, the payments would be made after the elections are over, but no payment has been made so far, said Khatter who allegedly has Rs 1.5 crore as dues.
They have not been able to file an FIR, according to the vendors, as the matter involves "powerful and mighty" people.
The vendors said they have written letters to the President, Prime Minister, Finance Minister and the Reserve Bank. They have also made complaints to the Corporate Affairs Ministry, Economic Offences Wing (EOW), Delhi and the Senior Superintendent of Police, Surajpur, Noida, but to no avail, the statement said.
Further, the vendors also claim that the latest buyer of HomeShop18 is a shell company and the marketplace was sold in a fraudulent manner.
Quoting Skyblue's financial records, they said that the company's net worth is Rs 7.57 lakh, with no employees which shows that it is a shell company.
"At the time of the acquisition, Surendra Lunia and Sunil Batra were the directors at Skyblue Buildwell. However, the current directors are Suchita Harenbhai Vaidya and Ripal Paragbhai Patel as per MCA data. The company has been changing hands frequently in the last four months, which indicates a fraud being done by the directors," said Girish Gupta, Secretary HomeShop18 Vendors Association.
"Lunia is a former director of Reliance Jio Infocomm and the former CEO of Himachal Futuristic Communications Ltd, a company promoted by Mahendra Nahata, who is also on the Jio board. This clearly shows the association between Skyblue and Reliance," he said.
They said that in their communications with Network18, the company says that now it would not be able to help as HomeShop18 has been sold and Skyblue on the other hand shrugs off saying that the dues are from the period of the previous promoters.
The vendors are also staging a protest at Jantar Mantar during the day.
Sources in RIL said that as the company has been sold, the vendors should now speak to the new owners.