Liberty Shoes heir, drag others to court over property
Son of the Gupta family that owns one of the country’s oldest footwear brands, Liberty Shoes, has taken his father to court over a property dispute.
Pranav Gupta, who holds about 1.5% in BSE-listed Liberty Shoes, approached the Delhi High Court seeking greater share of the family’s properties and has charged his father Adeesh Gupta and other shareholders of fraud.
Pranav also shot off letters to the CBI, Sebi, Economic Offence Wing of Mumbai Police, RBI, Serious Fraud Investigation Office and the Registrar of Companies, accusing his family members of “serious frauds,” “fraudulent transactions” and “irregularities.”
The 30-year-old is demanding additional stake in all properties and assets of Liberty Footwear Group Company and Hindu undivided family (HUFs), which have substantial holdings in Liberty Shoes and Liberty Footwear group firms.
Pranav has alleged his father forged gift deeds and transferred high value shares belonging to him when he was not in the country.
The Delhi High Court passed an interim order on April 16 on the partition suit filed by Pranav that puts disputed assets into three buckets. The first bucket includes 12.5% of assets held by Pranav’s grandfather, apparently bequeathed to him in the latter’s will. The second bucket includes assets in which Adeesh Gupta HUF holds about 6%. Pranav claims he holds 25% in the HUF. The third bucket comprises assets directly co-owned by Pranav and his family.
The court case comes at a time when one investment arm of the company — Geofin Investments — had approached corporate adjudicator National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT). Geofin Investments holds 26.25% in Liberty Shoes.
According to NCLT records, the case was filed in April by Pranav.
Here too Pranav had alleged “loans of Rs 70 crore were taken by the Geofin in May 2017. These loans are still outstanding,” said a person aware of the development.
“As responsible entrepreneurs and promoters, we have made several attempts to settle the family feud with Pranav. He has initiated false litigation against the family and group companies. These allegations have no impact on the working of any of the group firms, including the listed company. The Delhi High Court interim order does not impact the day-to-day business of the Liberty Group in any way,” said Tarunjay Bharti, general manager, finance, Liberty Shoes, responding on behalf of Liberty family and promoters.
A separate email sent to Pranav did not elicit any response.
According to the company website Dinesh Kumar Gupta (HUF), Adesh Kumar Gupta (HUF) and Adeesh Kumar Gupta (HUF) own 4.18%, 3.99% and 3.88% in Liberty Shoes respectively. Total promoter holding stands at 61.37% company filings with BSE showed. The website shows that Pranav Gupta holds about 1.43% in Liberty Footwear.
However, responding to an official query the company said, “The value of the assets under dispute in which Pranav holds share directly or indirectly may be around Rs 500 crore and his share may not exceed Rs 15-20 crore.”
Liberty Shoes has 11 owners who are all sons of the three co-founders of Liberty Shoes.