Bitter smokes at a cigarette major

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They are calling it smokescreen developments. A bitter succession war has hit the Rs 3,000-crore Godfrey Phillips India between Bina Modi, wife of late KK Modi, and her two sons, Samir Modi, and Lalit Modi.

Samir is based in the Indian Capital and was recently named CEO of GPI while the mother was named the chairperson of the group. For the records, Samir is also a director in the family-run Modi Enterprise.

The other son, Lalit, a fugitive, is based in London and battling Indian investigative agencies probing him on money laundering charges because of his alleged financial misappropriation in the Indian Premier League, cricket’s richest tournament.

Samir Modi was recently in the news after an alleged bitter fight broke out between him and his wife, Shivani. Company insiders say Shivani allegedly was asked to leave the ancestral home of Sameer Modi without any financial help. 

Samir Modi

On Wednesday, February 3, 2020, officers of the Income Tax searched the farm house and offices of Samir Modi, whose group’s interests range from tobacco to home care chains that operate round the clock in Indian cities.

Samir Modi, Sammy to his friends, was questioned for over 20 hours, claimed a top source in the office of Income Tax. The raids happened just before the company’s annual general meeting slated for February 4, 2020.

“The investigations will continue,” said the source.

Company insiders told News Intervention that troubles started in GPI after Samir Modi made his intention clear to be the successor of his father, the late KK Modi who ran the show for over five decades.

But now there is an all-out war in the family.

What is also interesting is that Samir Modi has found a great ally in Lalit Modi, now based in London. Lalit Modi has not returned to India, claiming his life was under threat from the dreaded underworld that mostly operates out of Mumbai.

Recently, Lalit Modi tweeted furiously that income tax raids had hit the group and the officers must expand their probe. 

The Economic Times reported last November 2020 that in a separate filing that GPI stood behind its managing director Bina Modi and called allegations of illegality in her appointment, by her grandson and company’s director Ruchir Modi, as “completely misconceived, motivated and baseless”.

“This matter has been extensively dealt with by the company in submissions made in the past to the stock exchanges and the SEBI,” the daily quoted the filing.

According to the daily, GPI called the suggestion of alleged violation in the corporate governance practise in the functioning of the company under Bina Modi’s leadership as “completely devoid of any substance” and “motivated”.

Shantanu Guha Ray
Shantanu Guha Ray
Shantanu Guha Ray is India Editor, Central European News (CEN), Vienna and the Consulting Editor, News Intervention. His much-acclaimed and award-winning book, Target, takes a close look at the NSEL crisis.

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