ED searches premises linked to Franklin Templeton

The agency is gathering more evidence as part of its investigation against the company and its promoters

The Enforcement Directorate has searched some places linked to asset manager Franklin Templeton as part of a money laundering investigation. File photo.

The Enforcement Directorate (ED) is searching some places linked to asset manager Franklin Templeton and its former and current executives as part of a money laundering investigation.

The agency said it was gathering further evidence as part of its investigation against the company and its promoters under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA).

Officials said that offices and residential premises in Mumbai and Chennai were searched. The company said it was cooperating with the ED.

“We continue to cooperate with all regulatory and statutory authorities and provide all data and information required by them. Franklin Templeton places great emphasis on compliance with regulations, and we have appropriate policies in place, consistent with Indian regulations and global best practices,” it said.


SEBI diktat

In November 2020, capital markets regulator Sebi issued a show-cause notice to the company following its April 2020 decision to wind up six debt schemes having Rs 25,000 crore of assets under management (AUM) from some 3 lakh investors, citing liquidity challenges because of the pandemic.

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Later, the company was told to pay Rs 5 crore as penalty, return over Rs 450 crore collected as 22-month investment management and advisory fees, and was banned from launching new debt schemes.

The Economic Offences Wing (EOW) in Chennai filed a FIR to probe the alleged irregularities. The ED case stems from this complaint.

The company said that regarding the six schemes, as of March 16, 2023 Rs 26,931.27 crore had been distributed to unit holders, amounting to 106.81 per cent of the aggregate reported AUM value as of April 23, 2020.

“The total amount disbursed so far ranges between 99.32 per cent and 112.46 per cent of the respective reported AUM values of the six funds as of April 23, 2020.

Company version

“At the time of each distribution, the Net Asset Value of each of the schemes was higher than it was on April 23, 2020. Further, five of the six funds have returned over 100 per cent of the AUM at the time of the winding up decision on April 23, 2020,” a company statement said.

Four out of six schemes have liquidated all performing securities.

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In 2021, Sebi restricted the heads of the asset manager — Vivek Kudva and Roopa Kudva — from accessing the securities market and from buying, selling or otherwise dealing in securities, directly or indirectly, or being associated with the securities market in any manner, whatsoever, for one year.

(With Agency inputs)