Failed venture with Amrapali promoter behind MS Dhoni’s exit?

Indian cricket captain MS Dhoni’s resignation as the brand ambassador of Amrapali group is being seen as having been done in support of aggrieved home buyers of Amrapali Sapphire housing project in Noida. But Dhoni’s decision to snap ties with Amrapali might have more to do with his family’s stuttering business venture with Anil Kumar Sharma, owner of Amrapali group.

His wife Sakshi Dhoni still continues to hold a 25% stake in the stalled business venture with Amrapali group owner Anil Kumar Sharma. A JD(U) candidate in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, Sharma was the richest in the fray with declared assets of around Rs 850 crore.

Although Dhoni became the face of Amrapali in 2010, the first business partnership between Dhoni’s family and Sharma was fructified a few months after India lifted the World Cup at the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai on April 2, 2011. In December that year, Sharma along with Dhoni’s wife Sakshi Singh Dhoni started a real estate company. The company, christened after the world cup winning captain, was called Amrapali Mahi Developers Pvt Ltd. The company was to be engaged in the business of “infrastructure development, development of residential units and commercial complexes”. More specifically, the company was to be involved in the construction of residential units only in Noida.

Documents reveal that even after four years of existence, Amrapali Mahi Developers Pvt Ltd failed to start any kind of business. Sakshi Dhoni held a 25% stake in the company while the rest was owned by Sharma. The assets of the company were just a few thousand rupees. No investments were made by the company, neither were any employees hired. The most significant expense ever incurred by the company during its existence was paying its auditors around Rs 10,000 to vet their books till 2013. In 2014, the highest transaction of the company was barely Rs 70,000. The money was shown as paid to none other than Sharma himself. From the documents, it becomes clear that Sakshi Dhoni was just a rubber stamp in Amrapali Mahi Developers Pvt Ltd – a ghost company with no business activity that had the wife of India’s cricket captain as a director. The company’s registered office is the same as the headquarters of the Amrapali Group at Karkardooma in East Delhi.
When contacted, Dhoni’s spokesperson Arun Pandey said, “we feel stuck ourselves”. He did not elaborate any further. Also, he didn’t respond to specific questions as to whether Sakshi Dhoni would end her business relationship with Amrapali as her husband has withdrawn as the brand ambassador of the real estate company. Amrapali’s owner Sharma too failed to respond to repeated calls and emails from dna.

If past events are anything to go by, business acrimony seems to have been brewing between Sharma and Dhoni. The Indian captain’s spokesperson has in the past said that Dhoni was given cheques amounting to Rs 75 crore in 2011-12 by Sharma as a security for his investment in Amrapali Mahi Developers Pvt Ltd. But documents show that neither Dhoni nor his wife Sakshi ever invested any money in the company apart from a few thousand rupees as paid up capital. Amrapali’s spokesperson had told the media in 2014 that Dhoni had returned the cheques to them in 2014 since the purpose for which the cheques were given wasn’t fulfilled. The purpose, for which the cheques were given, according to Amrapali, was to build a cricket academy in Ranchi.