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Gautam Thapar: From A Rainmaker To An Economic Offender

Avantha Group promoter Gautam Thapar’s fall, currently lodged at Delhi’s Tihar jail, was swifter than his meteoric rise. A series of events dislodged the 61-year-old industrialist from his pedestal, the latest being a special CBI court denying him bail in an alleged fraud case. Thapar was arrested in August 2021 by the Enforcement Directorate for money laundering following a sale of property in Delhi. The property, mortgaged to Yes Bank against a loan by the Avantha Group, was purchased by another firm at much lower than prevailing market rates. Coincidentally, Yes Bank’s founder Rana Kapoor’s wife was a director on the board of the said firm. What led to Thapar’s fall from grace? A Doon School and, US-based Pratt Institute alumni, he joined the family business Thapar Group in 1980 and is credited with turning around many of the group’s ailing businesses. In 2007, he bought over the family enterprise, rechristening it as the Avantha Group. An over-ambitious Thapar launched into aggressive global acquisitions under Crompton Greaves and the BILT brands, even foraying into the power sector in 2008. All these ventures, however, bombed with accusations of financial fraud and corporate governance issues abounding thereafter. The group companies were taken over by lenders, and the ‘rainmaker’ turned into an economic offender even having “criminal antecedents”.