MUMBAI: A group of investors in a Mauritius-based realty fund of ICICI Venture have sought damages totalling USD 103 million for losses suffered by them, but the asset manager termed the allegations as "totally baseless and malicious".
ICICI Venture also countered the claim of damages, saying the aggrieved investors accounted for a small percentage of those invested in the fund and they had refused to take an 'cash exit option' although returns were never guaranteed.
The investors are claiming losses from their investments in ICICI Venture's Dynamic India Fund III, which invested the money in realty projects which bombed, the NRIs' legal firm Banymandhup Boolell Chambers said in a statement.
The petition is being heard by the Mauritius Supreme Court, it added.
Alleging that they have suffered huge losses from the investments made, a group of 69 NRI investors from about among 500, has dragged ICICI and associated companies to the Mauritius Supreme Court. The investors are seeking USD 103,699,976 and interests from the fund, and others.
The petitioners have alleged that the fund invested in real estate projects, many of which failed to take off despite the world-class claim and assured returns promised by marketing teams.
"A plaint with summons was lodged before the Supreme Court of Mauritius by a group of NRIs and foreign investors against the ICICI Ventures, International Financial Services (IFS), ICICI Bank and the Western India Trustee & Executor Co," Banymandhup Boolell Chambers of Mauritius said.
When contacted, ICICI Venture denied any such development and termed it as baseless and that it had offered them a cash exit option in line with best global practices.
Its parent, ICICI Bank refused to comment, saying the allegations pertain to their PE arm and not the bank.
"The allegations levelled by a set of investors, constituting only 12 per cent of the investors in the said fund, are totally baseless, not supported by facts and are malicious," an ICICI Venture spokesperson said.
Stating it manages assets of over USD 2.5 billion and has delivered returns to its investors across various funds, ICICI Venture said it is common knowledge that globally PEs do not guarantee returns given the risks involved. Also, realty projects have long gestation period and hence the returns accrue over a period of time, it claimed.
The statement further said that it has extended the life of the said fund by three years to optimise realisation from the portfolio.
"As far as the legal proceedings instituted are concerned, ICICI Ventures will take necessary steps regarding the same based on legal advice," the spokesperson added.
The close-ended fund had a corpus of USD 220 million and its primary objective was to develop, lease, own and sell quality office buildings, residential premises and retail spaces attractive to quality tenants/users and appeal to long-term institutional investors.