Avery India Episode – My take

In all this hula boo we are missing the actual culprit Avery India Limited. We are also missing the hypocrisy of our accounting system and a huge farcical representation of accounts and the role of Auditors and their myriad representations and finally the mystical trysts with so called “Independent Directors Report” and their additional “ethical” disclosures and compliance. All so cryptic & more.. ( am sure a 1000 CAs shall now cry foul with this unpleasant comment )

And to add to all of this is my emotional attachment to this wonder factory at 51 Hyde road (which was more than my home for over 5 years ) and where i had joined as Manager Works Accounts having freshly qualified from Price Waterhouse, as an aspiring Chartered Accountant. Being 28 years old,energetic and bold I had to deal with over 500 workers at the factory and was looking after the following Departments: Planning , Purchase , Stores , Costing , Excise , IT & finally Accounts. Was really proud of my team and of this brilliant factory ( which was spotless white like all of Avery establishments …) and where the best of mechanical scales the world across were made, and in the finest of British tradition , which included values and value chain based on personal and collective integrity. (The corner stone of any viable business was good solid values built around non negotiable corporate values and objectives and how ironical this was really, as proved later in the stray charter or time & circumstance ? )

Documents will reveal that Avery handed over the plot to LMJ Construction Pvt Ltd sometime around March 2003. This was more than seven years after the expiry of the lease and at a time when Avery didn’t have any rights what so ever on the Hyde road property. and i ask myself these basic questions now…

Has this reflection ( let out ) been made in the Audited Accounts?
Has this additional “let out” been shown as Income from other sources in the Notes to Accounts? Or have these payments were made outside the accounting system ?
Has the Agreement for this illegal lease been officially validated by Corporate Legal?
Has the enhanced rental claims by Port Trust ( for the period subsequent to 30 years lease expiry ) been shown as contingent liabilities in the Balance Sheet ?
Interestingly, most of those who have gone to court against the Kolkata Port’s attempts to evict them aren’t the original lessees. Even in this case of the 13,378 square metre plot on P-51, Hyde Road Extension, the original lessee was Avery India Ltd. The 30-year-old lease between KoPT and the company had expired on January 23, 1996, just after I had left Avery.

It has been completely illegal to sub tenant to LMJ construction and this has been made illegally by Avery with full knowledge of its devious implications !. I remember very clearly that I had put up a confidential note ( earlier to Mr Modi , then Company Secretary and then to Mr R N Ghosh then Chief Accountant ) , much earlier than the actual date of expiry ie 1999 ( & while preparing my factory Budgets for the year 1993 ) and both individually endorsed the fact that we lodge our protest for enhanced rentals with Port Trust but keep paying the increased sums to Port Trust authorities. Subsequently I had approached both Glaxo ( 52 Hyde Road ) and Siemens ( 50 Hyde Road ) for a joint petition and all of us agreed to keep paying rent under protest. Obviously no one had the Machiavellian intentions of illegally subletting their premises jeopardising corporate interests and business ethics.

Obviously the devious strategy to illegally sub let happened much later when Avery closed manufacturing operations at this facility and shifted fully to Ballabgarh in Haryana. This happened over a period of time due to various personal gains of the then MD Mr N Nath , who was more unscrupulous than Rajaraman or for that matter Rose Valley MD Dutta ! ! eg selling of prime property at throw away prices and selling of prime land to Vesuvius Refractories which was originally planned for the electronic bottom works ( later shifted to ballabgarh as a horrible business decision where load shedding was over 12 hours each day ! ) and of course for shifting our corporate office and whole corporate team ( of over 50 people ) to Saket ( home town of Mr Nath ) , without too much of reason or thought !
As a result, LMJ Construction also didn’t gain any rights over the plot though the company claims that it continued to pay rent to KoPT as per the port authority’s original lease agreement with Avery. How ridiculous is this ? And then finally illegally sub letting again to Mr Mohta the undisputed regal deemed gangster god father of Tollywood ! And of course this innocent poor fellow knows nothing apart from film making and therefore the daily shoots continue at Hyde Road with the same fervor and flash and finesse , as the drama of life remains unbroken in the rhythm of gain and immortal politics sprinkled with doses of skewed wealth and ill gotten fame , after all these are brazen indications of mankind’s stoic progress …and this is the same story repeated all over and over again in various shades of red and now blue…viva freedom of enterprise and free will and burying of decadent corporate morals by the deep spade of indigenous GAAP ! After all a multinational company of international repute can be moralistically flexible , after all there are no defined rule of ethics imposition in this part of the world , never was ! Not to forget finally the bold solid stamp of an international auditor reinforces the firm and impeccable proof of universal compliance and summarily shuts the dramatic dusty story book with a resounding thud of finality !

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