A Guide to Accounting of Collateral and Repossessed Assets

-Financial Services Team ( finserv@vinodkothari.com )

The purpose of reporting in accordance with International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) is to provide financial information about the reporting entity that is useful to various stakeholders in making decisions about providing resources to the entity.

To satisfy the objective of IFRS/Ind AS reporting, to a large extent, based on estimates, judgements and models rather than exact depictions. In other words, the use of reasonable estimates is an essential part of the preparation of financial statements and does not undermine their reliability.

Understanding Collateral

Collateral is one or more assets that a borrower offers to a lender as security for a loan, with the intent that if the borrower defaults in making the promised loan payments, the lender has the right to seize the collateral, sell the same and realise the amounts due. Since collateral offers   a security to the lender should the borrower default, loans that are secured by collateral typically carry lower interest rates than unsecured loans.

Needless to say, secured lending forms a very important segment of the world of finance.

Although the legal rights that flow from collateral are typically specified in the loan agreement, law in some jurisdictions might specify particular overriding rights, obligations, restrictions, etc. In some cases, at the commencement of the loan, collateral is physically transferred from the borrower to the lender. These security interests are called possessory security interests – a pledge is an example of a possessory security interest. There are other types of security interests which are non-possessory, which are known as hypothecation, lien or charge in different jurisdictions. A mortgage in English and Indian law has a different connotation – it creates a property right in favour of the lender to secure the loan; hence, it results into transfer of specific title[1].

Irrespective of the form of collateral, it is clear that collateral is merely security interest, and not property interest. While covenants of security documentation may differ, the most common security document allows the lender to sell or cause the sale of the collateral upon default of the borrower.

Accounting of Collateral

Secured Loans:

When a financial institution (FI) extends a secured facility, it recognises  loan as its asset, as the benefits accruing to the entity would be on account of loan provided. The security would only act as backstop measure in case the performance of the loan deteriorates.  Further, the entity’s interest lies in the loan not in the charged asset.

However, this does not imply that security on a loan would go unnoticed while accounting for the loan asset. Collateral and other credit risk mitigants are important factors in an entity’s estimate of Expected credit losses (ECL).

Consequently, IFRS 7 Financial Instruments: Disclosures specifies that an entity must disclose information that enables users of its financial statements to evaluate the nature and extent of risks arising from financial instruments to which the entity is exposed at the end of the reporting period and how those risks have been managed by the entity (paragraphs 31 and 32). When relevant, an entity’s risk management disclosure would include its policies and procedures for taking collateral and for monitoring the continuing effectiveness of collateral in mitigating counterparty credit risk. Paragraph 35K of IFRS 7 requires information that will enable users of financial statements to understand the effect of collateral and other credit enhancements on the amount of expected credit losses.

The Division III of Schedule III to the Companies Act, 2013 prescribes a separate disclosure for secured and unsecured advances. Further the impairment loss allowance for both asset categories is also presented along with the specific asset  .

In short, disclosure of the collateral and credit enhancements is an important disclosure. The existence of the collateral itself may not change the carrying value of the loan, but it may have repercussions on the value of the ECL, as also, in case of fair-valued loans, on the risk-adjusted value by impacting the credit spread that is deployed as a part of the discounting rate.

Collateral and SPPI test

Simply payment of principal and interest (SPPI) test is one of the two tests that are required to be passed for a financial asset to be classified either as subsequently measured at Amortised Cost or at FVOCI. The test says that the contractual cash flows from the asset, on specified dates, should comprise only of principal payments and interest payments on the principal amount outstanding.

Paragraph BC4.206(b) of the Basis for Conclusions on IFRS 9 explains the IASB’s view that financial assets can still      meeting the SPPI test, i.e., the contractual cash flows may consist solely payments of principal and interest, even though they are collateralised by assets.     . Consequently, in performing the SPPI test an entity disregards the possibility that the collateral might be foreclosed in the future unless the entity acquired the instrument with the intention of controlling the collateral.

Accounting of Repossessed Assets

Assume the following facts: FI had a loan of Rs 1000 outstanding, which was in default. FI forecloses and repossesses the collateral, say a machinery, which is valued Rs 700 on the date of repossession. FI keeps the machinery pending disposal, and on the reporting date, the machinery is still in stock. Eventually, in the next reporting period, the machinery is sold, say for a net realisation of Rs 600.

Several questions arise – on the date of repossession, can FI remove loan to the extent of Rs 700 and debit it to machinery held for sale? What happens to the loss of Rs 100 on the sale – is it loss related to the loan, or loss related to disposal of machinery?

Questions like this are faced by financial institutions all the time.

Though accounting standards provide ample guidance on taking cognizance of collateral, specifically for credit risk assessment and asset recognition, the clarity is lost at the issue of accounting for repossessed assets. Accounting standards do not provide a clear view on how an asset should be treated when the entity enforces its right to foreclose and repossess the asset, and the asset is pending disposal. If the disposal of the asset has already been done, then the question of any accounting for collateral does not arise, as the collateral has already      been disposed off. However, the accounting for the collateral itself, as discussed below, will affect the accounting for the disposal as well.

As regards accounting for the repossession of the collateral, some guidance comes from the Para B5.5.55 of IFRS 9/Ind AS 109 :

“…….Any collateral obtained as a result of foreclosure is not recognised as an asset that is separate from the collateralised financial instrument unless it meets the relevant recognition criteria for an asset in this or other Standards.”

The extract clarifies that mere fact that the asset is repossessed would not make it eligible for being recognised as an asset on the books, as the entity’s interest still lies in recovery loan, the entity would have no interest in the asset if not for dues under the loan.

Further, Para 7 of IAS 16 / Ind AS 16 states that

“The cost of an item of property, plant and equipment shall be recognised as an asset if, and only if:

(a) it is probable that future economic benefits associated with the item will flow to the entity; and

(b) the cost of the item can be measured reliably”

Hence, the FI can capitalise and record only such assets whose future economic benefits would accrure to the financial institution in question, that is, the lender. PPE classification is possible  It may also be possible for an entity to hold the asset as an investment property, for disposal. There may be cases where the collateral may consist of shares, securities or other financial assets, or may consist of stock in trade or receivables.

Irrespective of the type of asset, the key question would be – has the lender acquired a property interest in the collateral, so as to have risks and rewards in the same, or the lender has simply acquired possession over the collateral for causing disposal?

Legal rights in case of collateral

The accounting here is impacted by the legal rights in case of collateral. To  reiterate, we are stating here generic legal position, and it is possible that collateral documents bring rights of the lender which are differential. Further, the legal rights may vary depending upon the kind of security interest being created on the assets, e.g. a pledge would differ from a mortgage.

In the case of Balkrishan Gupta And Ors vs Swadeshi Polytex Ltd[2] the Supreme Court, while also indicating the very distinction between a pawn and a mortgage, observed that even after a pledge is enforced, the  legal title to the goods pledged  would not  vest in the pawnee. the pawnee has only a special  property. A pawnee has no right of foreclosure since he never had absolute ownership at law and his equitable title cannot exceed what  is specifically granted by  law. The right  to property vests in the pledged only so far as is necessary  to secure the debt.[3]

Although, pledge has to be differentiated from a mortgage which wholly passes the thing in the property conveyed[4] However, as noted in     , Narandas Karsondas vs. S.A Kamtam and Anr[5] it is important to note that the mortgagor does not lose the right of redemption until the sale is complete by registration. In selling the property, the mortgagee is not acting as the agent of the mortgagor but under a different (read: superior) claim. No equity or right in property is created in favour of the purchaser by the contract between the mortgagee and the proposed purchaser.

We have mentioned above that the legal rights of a lender differ (a) based on the law of the jurisdiction, as also consistent practices; (b) legal documentation. For instance, in case of mortgage, the common law provides two different rights of a mortgagee – the decree of sale and the decree of foreclosure [Section 67 of Transfer of Property Act, 1882]      Decree of sale implies that the mortgagee may simply cause the sale of the mortgaged property. Decree of foreclosure is foreclosure of the mortgagor’s      right of redemption, and the mortgagee, therefore, becoming absolute owner of the property. There are exceptional circumstances when this is possible, for example, in case of a mortgage by conditional sale.

In case of pledges too, while the general rule as set out in Lallan Prasad vs Rahmat Ali[6]  and GTL Textiles vs IFCI Ltd.[7] is that the pledgee only has the right to cause sale.

In case of US practices, it is quite a common practice of mortgage lenders to hold the foreclosed property as Real Estate Owned.

Thus, there can be two situations:

  • Case 1 – Lender acquires the asset as means of recovery and does not acquire  any risk and reward in the property;
  • Case 2 – Lender acquirers the property in the full and final settlement of the loan.

Our analysis of broad principles is as follows:

Acquisition as means of recovery

The lender could repossess the property as a result of the borrower’s default with the intention securing the possession of the collateral. The seeking of possession of the collateral is simply seeking the custody of the collateral. This is preventive – to ensure that the asset or its value is not  prejudiced. This is intent when a court, receiver, arbitrator or similar agency seeks control over the collateral. The intent is custodial and not proprietary. The actual sale proceeds of the asset, as and when disposed of by the lender, will go to the credit of the borrower; any amounts received in excess of the mortgage balance will be refunded to the borrower; and any shortfall remains the obligation of the borrower.

The FI may continue to charge interest on the outstanding balance. The lender remains exposed to interest rate risk on the  collateral but is not exposed directly to property price risk.

In such cases, there is no question of the loan being set off against the value of the collateral, until the collateral is actually disposed off. While giving the particulars  of the collateral, the lender may separately classify collateral in possession of the lender, as distinct from collateral which is in possession of the borrower or third parties. However, the classification of the loan remains unchanged.

Acquisition of proprietary interest in the collateral:

The lender could repossess the property, which in terms of the law or contract, gives the lender absolute rights in the property. The lender may have the right to collect the unrealised amount from the borrower, or the obligation to refund the excess, if any,  realised, but the issue is, does the lender acquire proprietary interest in the collateral, and whether the lender now is exposed to the risks and rewards, or the variability in the value of the collateral?

However, FASB has prescribed following guidelines to determine whether the charged asset would replace the loan asset. The FASB guidance on Reclassification of Residential Real Estate Collateralized Consumer Mortgage Loans upon Foreclosure[8]  provides that “a creditor is considered to have received physical possession of residential real estate property collateralizing a consumer mortgage loan, upon either upon

(1) the creditor obtaining legal title to the residential real estate property upon completion of a foreclosure or

(2) the borrower conveying all interest in the residential real estate property to the creditor to satisfy that loan through completion of a deed in lieu of foreclosure or through a similar legal agreement. “

In line with above, where the entity has acquired complete right over the asset there is no doubt that the loan account is closed, and the entity now hold interest entirely in the repossessed asset. Hence the company shall derecognise the loan asset and recognise the charged asset in their books. Whether the asset will be a real asset, financial asset, stock in trade, receivables, PPE or other investment property, will depend on the asset and the intent of the entity in holding it till disposal.

Accounting for repossession of the collateral:

In the above case, the entity should fair value the collateral on the date of seeking repossession, and to the extent of the fair value, the asset should be debited, crediting the loan. Whether the asset will continue to be subjected to fair valuation, or historical cost valuation, will depend on the applicable accounting standard for the type of asset in question.

any subsequent movement in the value of the collateral will affect the entity, and not the borrower.

Conclusion

Given the current stress in the economy, the rates of default on loans collateralized by all kinds of properties – residential real estate, commercial real estate, vehicles, consumer durables, etc., have zoomed up. There will be substantial collateral calls in time to come, and therefore, the need to have clarity on accounting for collateral is more today than ever before.

This article has tried to fill an apparent gap in literature on accounting for collateral. We will want to develop this article further, with numerical examples, by way of further updates.

[1] Different forms of security interests are discussed at length in Vinod Kothari: Securitisation, Asset Reconstruction and Enforcement of Security Interests. Lexis Nexis publication

[2] Balkrishan Gupta And Ors vs Swadeshi Polytex Ltd

[3] Gtl Limited vs Ifci Ltd

[4] Lallan Prasad vs Rahmat Ali

[5] Narandas Karsondas vs. S.A Kamtam and Anr

[6] Lallan Prasad vs Rahmat Ali

[7] GTL Textiles vs IFCI Ltd

[8] FASB guidance on Reclassification of Residential Real Estate Collateralized Consumer Mortgage Loans upon Foreclosure

 

Fragmented framework for perfection of security interest

Introduction An interesting question of law came up for consideration by way of appeal before National Company Law Appellate Tribunal (NCLAT) in Volkswagen Finance Private Limited v. Shree Balaji Printopack Pvt. Ltd.[1]  The brief facts of the case involved a car financing company, which extended a car loan to the corporate debtor. The car financier […]

Law relating to collective investment schemes on shared ownership of real assets

-Vinod Kothari (finserv@vinodkothari.com)

The law relating to collective investment schemes has always been, and perhaps will remain, enigmatic, because these provisions were designed to ensure that enthusiastic operators do not source investors’ money with tall promises of profits or returns, and start running what is loosely referred to as Ponzi schemes of various shades. De facto collective investment schemes or schemes for raising money from investors may be run in elusive forms as well – as multi-level marketing schemes, schemes for shared ownership of property or resources, or in form of cancellable contracts for purchase of goods or services on a future date.

While regulations will always need to chase clever financial fraudsters, who are always a day ahead of the regulator, this article is focused on schemes of shared ownership of properties. Shared economy is the cult of the day; from houses to cars to other indivisible resources, the internet economy is making it possible for users to focus on experience and use rather than ownership and pride of possession. Our colleagues have written on the schemes for shared property ownership[1]. Our colleagues have also written about the law of collective investment schemes in relation to real estate financing[2]. Also, this author, along with a colleague, has written how the confusion among regulators continues to put investors in such schemes to prejudice and allows operators to make a fast buck[3].

This article focuses on the shared property devices and the sweep of the law relating to collective investment schemes in relation thereto.

Basis of the law relating to collective investment schemes

The legislative basis for collective investment scheme regulations is sec. 11AA (2) of the SEBI Act. The said section provides:

Any scheme or arrangement made or offered by any company under which,

  • the contributions, or payments made by the investors, by whatever name called, are pooled and utilized solely for the purposes of the scheme or arrangement;
  • the contributions or payments are made to such scheme or arrangement by the investors with a view to receive profits, income, produce or property, whether movable or immovable from such scheme or arrangement;
  • the property, contribution or investment forming part of scheme or arrangement, whether identifiable or not, is managed on behalf of the investors;
  • the investors do not have day to day control over the management and operation of the scheme or arrangement.

The major features of a CIS may be visible from the definition. These are:

  1. A schematic for the operator to collect investors’ money: There must be a scheme or an arrangement. A scheme implies a well-structured arrangement whereby money is collected under the scheme. Usually, every such scheme provides for the entry as well as exit, and the scheme typically offers some rate of return or profit. Whether the profit is guaranteed or not, does not matter, at least looking at the definition. Since there is a scheme, there must be some operator of the scheme, and there must be some persons who put in their money into the scheme. These are called “investors”.
  2. Pooling of contributions: The next important part of a CIS is the pooling of contributions. Pooling implies the contributions losing their individuality and becoming part of a single fungible hotchpot. If each investor’s money, and the investments therefrom, are identifiable and severable, there is no pooling. The whole stance of CIS is collective investment. If the investment is severable, then the scheme is no more a collective scheme.
  3. Intent of receiving profits, produce, income or property: The intent of the investors contributing money is to receive results of the collective investment. The results may be in form of profits, produce, income or property. The usual feature of CIS is the operator tempting investors with guaranteed rate of return; however, that is not an essential feature of CISs.
  4. Separation of management and investment: The management of the money is in the hands of a person, say, investment manager. If the investors manage their own investments, there is no question of a CIS. Typically, investor is someone who becomes a passive investor and does not have first level control (see next bullet). It does not matter whether the so-called manager is an investor himself, or may be the operator of the scheme as well. However, the essential feature is there being multiple “investors”, and one or some “manager”.
  5. Investors not having regular control over the investments: As discussed above, the hiving off of the ownership and management of funds is the very genesis of the regulatory concern in a CIS, and therefore, that is a key feature.

The definition may be compared with section 235 of the UK Financial Services and Markets Act, which provides as follows:

  • In this Part “collective investment scheme” means any arrangements with respect to property of any description, including money, the purpose or effect of which is to enable persons taking part in the arrangements (whether by becoming owners of the property or any part of it or otherwise) to participate in or receive profits or income arising from the acquisition, holding, management or disposal of the property or sums paid out of such profits or income.
  • The arrangements must be such that the persons who are to participate (“participants”) do not have day-to-day control over the management of the property, whether or not they have the right to be consulted or to give directions.
  • The arrangements must also have either or both of the following characteristics—
  • the contributions of the participants and the profits or income out of which payments are to be made to them are pooled;
  • the property is managed as a whole by or on behalf of the operator of the scheme.
    • If arrangements provide for such pooling as is mentioned in subsection (3)(a) in relation to separate parts of the property, the arrangements are not to be regarded as constituting a single collective investment scheme unless the participants are entitled to exchange rights in one part for rights in another.

It is conspicuous that all the features of the definition in the Indian law are present in the UK law as well.

Hong Kong Securities and Futures Ordinance [Schedule 1] defines a collective investment scheme as follows:

collective investment scheme means—

  • arrangements in respect of any property—
  • under which the participating persons do not have day-to-day control over the management of the property, whether or not they have the right to be consulted or to give directions in respect of such management;
  • under which—
  • the property is managed as a whole by or on behalf of the person operating the arrangements;
  • the contributions of the participating persons and the profits or income from which payments are made to them are pooled; or
  • the property is managed as a whole by or on behalf of the person operating the arrangements, and the contributions of the participating persons and the profits or income from which payments are made to them are pooled; and
  • the purpose or effect, or pretended purpose or effect, of which is to enable the participating persons, whether by acquiring any right, interest, title or benefit in the property or any part of the property or otherwise, to participate in or receive—
  • profits, income or other returns represented to arise or to be likely to arise from the acquisition, holding, management or disposal of the property or any part of the property, or sums represented to be paid or to be likely to be paid out of any such profits, income or other returns; or
  • a payment or other returns arising from the acquisition, holding or disposal of, the exercise of any right in, the redemption of, or the expiry of, any right, interest, title or benefit in the property or any part of the property; or
  • arrangements which are arrangements, or are of a class or description of arrangements, prescribed by notice under section 393 of this Ordinance as being regarded as collective investment schemes in accordance with the terms of the notice.

One may notice that this definition as well has substantially the same features as the definition in the UK law.

Judicial analysis of the definition

Part (iii) of the definition in Indian law refers to management of the contribution, property or investment on behalf of the investors, and part (iv) lays down that the investors do not have day to day control over the operation or management. The same features, in UK law, are stated in sec. 235 (2) and (3), emphasizing on the management of the contributions as a whole, on behalf of the investors, and investors not doing individual management of their own money or property. The question has been discussed in multiple UK rulings. In Financial Conduct Authority vs Capital Alternatives and others,  [2015] EWCA Civ 284, [2015] 2 BCLC 502[4], UK Court of Appeal, on the issue whether any extent of individual management by investors will take the scheme of the definition of CIS, held as follows:  “The phrase “the property is managed as a whole” uses words of ordinary language. I do not regard it as appropriate to attach to the words some form of exclusionary test based on whether the elements of individual management were “substantial” – an adjective of some elasticity. The critical question is whether a characteristic feature of the arrangements under the scheme is that the property to which those arrangements relate is managed as a whole. Whether that condition is satisfied requires an overall assessment and evaluation of the relevant facts. For that purpose it is necessary to identify (i) what is “the property”, and (ii) what is the management thereof which is directed towards achieving the contemplated income or profit. It is not necessary that there should be no individual management activity – only that the nature of the scheme is that, in essence, the property is managed as a whole, to which question the amount of individual management of the property will plainly be relevant”.

UK Supreme Court considered a common collective land-related venture, viz., land bank structure, in Asset Land Investment Plc vs Financial Conduct Authority, [2016] UKSC 17[5]. Once again, on the issue of whether the property is collective managed, or managed by respective investors, the following paras from UK Financial Conduct Authority were cited with approval:

The purpose of the ‘day-to-day control’ test is to try to draw an important distinction about the nature of the investment that each investor is making. If the substance is that each investor is investing in a property whose management will be under his control, the arrangements should not be regarded as a collective investment scheme. On the other hand, if the substance is that each investor is getting rights under a scheme that provides for someone else to manage the property, the arrangements would be regarded as a collective investment scheme.

Day-to-day control is not defined and so must be given its ordinary meaning. In our view, this means you have the power, from day-to-day, to decide how the property is managed. You can delegate actual management so long as you still have day-to-day control over it.[6]

The distancing of control over a real asset, even though owned by the investor, may put him in the position of a financial investor. This is a classic test used by US courts, in a test called Howey Test, coming from a 1946 ruling in SEC vs. Howey[7]. If an investment opportunity is open to many people, and if investors have little to no control or management of investment money or assets, then that investment is probably a security. If, on the other hand, an investment is made available only to a few close friends or associates, and if these investors have significant influence over how the investment is managed, then it is probably not a security.

The financial world and the real world

As is apparent, the definition in sec. 235 of the UK legislation has inspired the draft of the Indian law. It is intriguing to seek as to how the collective ownership or management of real properties has come within the sweep of the law. Evidently, CIS regulation is a part of regulation of financial services, whereas collective ownership or management of real assets is a part of the real world. There are myriad situations in real life where collective business pursuits,  or collective ownership or management of properties is done. A condominium is one of the commonest examples of shared residential space and services. People join together to own land, or build houses. In the good old traditional world, one would have expected people to come together based on some sort of “relationship” – families, friends, communities, joint venturers, or so on. In the interweb world, these relationships may be between people who are invisibly connected by technology. So the issue, why would a collective ownership or management of real assets be regarded as a financial instrument, to attract what is admittedly a  piece of financial law.

The origins of this lie in a 1984 Report[8] and a 1985 White Paper[9], by Prof LCB Gower, which eventually led to the enactment of the 1986 UK Financial Markets law. Gower has discussed the background as to why contracts for real assets may, in certain circumstances, be regarded as financial contracts. According to Gower, all forms of investment should be regulated “other than those in physical objects over which the investor will have exclusive control. That is to say, if there was investment in physical objects over which the investor had no exclusive control, it would be in the nature of an investment, and hence, ought to be regulated. However, the basis of regulating investment in real assets is the resemblance the same has with a financial instrument, as noted by UK Supreme Court in the Asset Land ruling: “..the draftsman resolved to deal with the regulation of collective investment schemes comprising physical assets as part of the broader system of statutory regulation governing unit trusts and open-ended investment companies, which they largely resembled.”

The wide sweep of the regulatory definition is obviously intended so as not to leave gaps open for hucksters to make the most. However, as the UK Supreme Court in Asset Land remarked: “The consequences of operating a collective investment scheme without authority are sufficiently grave to warrant a cautious approach to the construction of the extraordinarily vague concepts deployed in section 235.”

The intent of CIS regulation is to capture such real property ownership devices which are the functional equivalents of alternative investment funds or mutual funds. In essence, the scheme should be operating as a pooling of money, rather than pooling of physical assets. The following remarks in UK Asset Land ruling aptly capture the intent of CIS regulation: “The fundamental distinction which underlies the whole of section 235 is between (i) cases where the investor retains entire control of the property and simply employs the services of an investment professional (who may or may not be the person from whom he acquired it) to enhance value; and (ii) cases where he and other investors surrender control over their property to the operator of a scheme so that it can be either pooled or managed in common, in return for a share of the profits generated by the collective fund.”

Conclusion

While the intent and purport of CIS regulation world over is quite clear, but the provisions  have been described as “extraordinarily vague”. In the shared economy, there are numerous examples of ownership of property being given up for the right of enjoyment. As long as the intent is to enjoy the usufructs of a real property, there is evidently a pooling of resources, but the pooling is not to generate financial returns, but real returns. If the intent is not to create a functional equivalent of an investment fund, normally lure of a financial rate of return, the transaction should not be construed as a collective investment scheme.

 

[1] Vishes Kothari: Property Share Business Models in India, http://vinodkothari.com/blog/property-share-business-models-in-india/

[2] Nidhi Jain, Collective Investment Schemes for Real Estate Investments in India, at http://vinodkothari.com/blog/collective-investment-schemes-for-real-estate-investment-by-nidhi-jain/

[3] Vinod Kothari and Nidhi Jain article at: https://www.moneylife.in/article/collective-investment-schemes-how-gullible-investors-continue-to-lose-money/18018.html

[4] http://www.bailii.org/ew/cases/EWCA/Civ/2015/284.html

[5] https://www.supremecourt.uk/cases/docs/uksc-2014-0150-judgment.pdf

[6] https://www.handbook.fca.org.uk/handbook/PERG/11/2.html

[7] 328 U.S. 293 (1946), at https://supreme.justia.com/cases/federal/us/328/293/

[8] Review of Investor Protection, Part I, Cmnd 9215 (1984)

[9] Financial Services in the United Kingdom: A New Framework for Investor Protection (Cmnd 9432) 1985

 

Our Other Related Articles

Property Share Business Models in India,< http://vinodkothari.com/blog/property-share-business-models-in-india/>

Collective Investments Schemes: How gullible investors continue to lose money < https://www.moneylife.in/article/collective-investment-schemes-how-gullible-investors-continue-to-lose-money/18018.html>

Collective Investment Schemes for Real Estate Investments in India, < http://vinodkothari.com/blog/collective-investment-schemes-for-real-estate-investment-by-nidhi-jain/>

 

ARCs and Insolvency Resolution Plans – The Enigma of Equity vs Debt

– By Sikha Bansal (resolution@vinodkothari.com)

This article has also been published in IndiaCorpLaw Blog, the same can be viewed here

A regulatory framework for asset reconstruction companies (ARCs) was introduced in India through the Securitisation and Reconstruction of Financial Assets and Enforcement of Security Interest Act, 2002 (SARFAESI Act). This intended to put in place a system for clearing up non-performing assets (NPAs) from the books of banks and financial institutions. Over a decade later, the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016 (IBC) was introduced with the objective of reorganisation and resolution of insolvent entities.

Although the common goal of both these legislation seems to be the cleaning or reconstruction of bad loan portfolios, it is important to understand the difference between the basic premises of these two laws: while the SARFAESI Act deals with ‘recovery’ and is more of a ‘class’ remedy, the IBC is about ‘resolution’ and intended to constitute a collective process. Given a common set of stakeholders involved under both these laws, there remains an obvious possibility of overlaps or inconsistencies. Read more

RBI lessons ARCs on fairness

A discussion on the fair practice code issued for ARCs

-Sikha Bansal and Kanakprabha Jethani

Introduction

Asset Reconstruction Companies (ARCs) are companies specializing in the business on acquiring non-performing assets and stressed assets of the banks and financial institutions and reconstructing them.

The Securitisation and Reconstruction of Financial Assets and Enforcement of Security Interest Act, 2002 (SARFAESI) accords the status of ‘financial institutions’ and ‘secured creditor’ to ARCs, such that an ARC acquiring bad loans is also able to exercise same rights and powers as the originator of the loan would have. This is explicitly stated in section 5 of SARFAESI.

Now, as they say, with great power, comes great responsibility; since, the business of ARCs involves frequent dealing with borrowers of loans, they must be guided by principles of fairness in their dealings with borrowers. Earlier, there were no guidelines with respect to fair practices of ARCs. However, after a gap of almost 20 years from the time the law was enacted, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) through a notification dated 16.07.2020[1], issued a Fair Practices Code (FPC) for ARCs. It is noteworthy that in this span of 20 years, around 28 ARCs have been registered in India[2] and have an AUM of USD 14,583 million[3]. Further, the role and involvement of ARCs have increased multifold with IBC proceedings.

The FPC seeks to ensure fairness as well as transparency in the operations of ARCs, and calls upon the ARCs to put in place board approved FPC, grievance redressal mechanisms, code of conduct for recovery agents, etc. However, what is more important is that the FPC sets out principles for ARCs for sale and purchase of assets, as discussed below.

Acquisition of assets: follow arm’s length principle

While acquiring any asset, an ARC should maintain transparency and follow arms’ length principle and shall ensure there is no discrimination between sellers in the process of acquisition.

Notably, RBI has already prohibited ARCs to have bilateral acquisitions (that is, one to one transactions) from certain connected entities, e.g. sponsor banks/FIs, and group entities[4], irrespective of the consideration involved. However, auction purchases are allowed provided the auction is transparent, is on arms’ length and price is determined by market forces. This essentially entails that the auctions should be widely publicised, be open to all interested parties and be transparent in terms of bids submitted.

Sale of assets: be transparent

ARC should enable the participation of as many prospective buyers they can, so that actual market value can be determined of any asset. For that, the invitation shall be made public. The extant guidelines for conduct of ARCs[5] also require sale of assets through public auction only. Thus, this is just a reiteration of the existing guidelines.

Further, while finalising the terms and condition for sale of underlying assets, the ARCs shall consult the investors of security receipts (SRs).

Besides, a crucial provision in the FPC is the reference to section 29A of the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016 (IBC), as discussed below.

The ‘spirit’ of section 29A

FPC mentions that the “spirit” of section 29A of IBC may be followed while dealing with prospective buyers”.

The reference to section 29A, most predictably, comes in the wake of rising involvement of ARCs in insolvency proceedings, either as sole or joint resolution applicants. Section 29A provides a list of persons who shall not be eligible to be a resolution applicant or a buyer of assets in case of a liquidation sale. The intent here seems to bar persons such as undischarged insolvents, wilful defaulters, a person whose accounts are classified as NPA, etc. from buying the assets. One concern with regard to section 29A is possible use of ARCs as devices to camouflage ineligible persons. Therefore, it is a logical and a positive step to add this restriction as a component of FPC for ARCs.

It is relevant to note that courts have held that the disability under section 29A is to be considered even where the sales are made by a secured creditor outside liquidation[6]. Say, what if the secured creditor assigns his rights and interest to an ARC? Will an ARC be debarred from selling the assets to a person hit by section 29A?

The issue has to be examined under two circumstances – first, where the borrower has been under insolvency proceedings of IBC and in case of liquidation, the secured creditor stands out of liquidation proceedings to sell the asset, and second, where there are no preceding IBC proceedings.

Considering the extant precedents surrounding section 29A, it can be contended that the contagion of section 29A might also hamper the freehand of ARCs in selling the assets whether or not the assets have been through IBC proceedings or not. However, one may note that the extant guidelines, on the contrary, permit the defaulting promoters to buy-back the assets from ARCs, provided the settlement is considered beneficial in certain respects[7].

Hence, ARCs would be required to take a balanced view on determining whether the sale is to be made to a prospective buyer or not. Notably, FPC does not impose section 29A, per se, on sales by ARCs, but advises the ARCs to follow the spirit of section 29A. The intent of section 29A has been to ensure that among others, persons responsible for insolvency of the corporate debtor do not participate in the resolution process[8].

Therefore, it may be contended that in case the assets are in or have passed through IBC proceedings, the provisions of section 29A will apply strictly, and in other cases, the ARCs should endeavour to abide by the intent of section 29A. The stance of the regulator may become clearer in due course of time.

Action points for ARCs

The following are actionables on the part of ARCs. We are of the view that, since the notification does not provide for any specific date of applicability, the same shall be immediately applicable. Hence, the FPC, incorporating the following, shall be formulated within reasonable time and may be adopted in the next board meeting.

Particulars Actionables
Measures to prevent harassment by recovery agents ·  Ensure that the staff and recovery agents are adequately trained to deal with customers and to handle their responsibilities with care and sensitivity, particularly in respect of aspects such as hours of calling, privacy of customer information

·  Adoption of code of conduct (as discussed above)

·  Ensure that the recovery agents and the staff of ARCs observe strict customer confidentiality.

·  Ensure that recovery agents do not induce adoption of uncivilized, unlawful and questionable behaviour or recovery process.

Charging of fees Put in place a board approved policy on management fee, expenses and incentives, if any, claimed from trusts under their management.
Outsourcing Put in place an outsourcing policy, approved by the Board, which incorporates, criteria for selection of activities to be outsourced as well as service providers, delegation of authority depending on risks and materiality and systems to monitor and review the operations of these activities/ service providers.
Grievance Redressal ·  Constitute a Grievance Redressal machinery which deals with the issue relating to services provided by the outsourced agency and recovery agents, if any.

·  Mention the name and contact number of designated grievance redressal officer of the ARC in communications with the borrowers.

Conclusion

As regards acquisition and realisation of assets, the extant directions provide for framing of acquisition policies and realisation plans. Further, as discussed, RBI from time to time, had been issuing directives regulating the sales by ARCs. The FPC, incorporating the provisions of section 29A, can be said to be an additional step in the same direction.

Insofar as conduct towards borrowers is concerned, before issue of the FPC for ARCs, there were no separate guidelines. However, this should not imply that ARCs were not required to act as such. As a matter of practice, the conduct of ARCs towards the borrowers should be guided by the behavioural principles and principles of fairness and equity.

The banks/financial institutions are anyway under the directions of RBI[9] to be fair in all respects in dealing with the borrowers. Therefore, it could not be said that an ARC which purchases loans from the banks/financial institutions could have all the powers of a secured lender but not the responsibilities. In the authors’ view, the responsibility to act fairly is tagged along with the right to enforce security. However, the FPC as issued now, concretises the concept of ‘fair practice’ for ARCs, and is a step in the right direction. With the FPC coming into force, practices of ARCs, which were earlier based on the market practice and varied largely, shall be unified.

[1] https://www.rbi.org.in/Scripts/NotificationUser.aspx?Id=11937&Mode=0

[2] List of ARCs on the website of the RBI (As in February 2020)

[3] https://www2.deloitte.com/content/dam/Deloitte/in/Documents/tax/in-tax-asset-reconstruction-companies-tax-regulatory-framework-noexp.pdf

[4] https://www.rbi.org.in/scripts/NotificationUser.aspx?Id=11749&Mod e=0

[5] https://www.rbi.org.in/Scripts/BS_ViewMasCirculardetails.aspx?id=9901

[6] NCLAT ruling- https://nclat.nic.in/Useradmin/upload/20572042075dd3e35176572.pdf

[7] See para 5 of the ARC Guidelines

[8] Swiss Ribbons Pvt. Ltd. vs Union Of India (https://indiankanoon.org/doc/17372683/)

[9] Guidelines on Fair Practices for lenders- https://www.rbi.org.in/scripts/NotificationUser.aspx?Id=3315&Mode=0 and;

Fair Practice Code for NBFCs- https://rbidocs.rbi.org.in/rdocs/notification/PDFs/45MD01092016B52D6E12D49F411DB63F67F2344A4E09.PDF

CERSAI 2.0: A Preliminary Guide

-Mahesh Jethani (finserv@vinodkothari.com)

All Scheduled Commercial Banks (including RRBs), Small Finance Banks, Local Area Banks, all Co-operative Banks, all NBFCs and All India Financial Institutions are required register creation of security interest over an asset with the Central Registry of Securitisation Asset Reconstruction and Security Interest of India (CERSAI).

An upgraded version of Security Interest portal i.e. CERSAI 2.0, is going to be released on August 3, 2020, which shall introduce some novel changes such as the offline functionality for adding security interest transactions and no maker-checker concept. In the following writeup we intend to explore the legal requirements for registering on CERSAI 2.0 and the process of registration along with scenario before and after the portal goes live.

The registration process is based on the limited study of the user manual for registration provided on the website of CERSAI.

Legal Requirement for Registration on CERSAI

The objective behind setting up of CERSAI is to have a centralised database for security interests provided in favour of financial institutions. For this purpose, various regulations require the financial/lending institutions to register creation of security interest, which are as follows:

RBI Guidelines and Notifications

Para 108 of Master Directions for NBFC-SIs[1] and para 94 of Master Direction for NSIs[2] makes it mandatory for applicable NBFCs to file records of equitable mortgages with the CERSAI.

Further, a notification[3] issued by the RBI, requires NBFCs to register the following, in addition to the security interest (mortgage) created through deposit of title deeds –

  1. Security interest in immovable property by mortgage other than mortgage by deposit of title deeds;
  2. Security interest created by way of hypothecation of plant and machinery, stocks, debts including book debts or receivables, whether existing or future;
  3. Security interest in intangible assets, being know how, patent, copyright, trademark, licence, franchise or any other business or commercial right of similar nature;
  4. Security interest in any ‘under construction’ residential or commercial or a part thereof by an agreement or instrument other than mortgage.

Securitisation and Reconstruction of Financial Assets and Enforcement of Security Interest Act, 2002 (SARFAESI Act)

The SARFAESI Act regulates securitisation, reconstruction of financial assets and deals with enforcement of security interest. Section 23 of the Act reads as under:

“The particulars of every transaction of securitisation, asset reconstruction or creation of security interest shall be filed, with the Central Registrar in the manner and on payment of such fee as may be prescribed“

Accordingly, all transactions of securitisation and asset reconstruction and creation of security interest are required to be registered.

CERSAI 2.0- Entity Registration Process

The Entity Registration functionality shall be accessible on the CERSAI 2.0 portal. In order to register details of security interest and access various functionalities available on the portal, entities must be registered. Post implementation of chapter IV-A of SARFAESI Act entities are broadly classified into three main categories –

  • Secured Creditors
  • Other Creditors
  • Revenue Authorities

Secured Creditors

The secured creditors can be any of the following entities- Public Sector Banks, Private Sector Banks, NBFCs, Security Trustees, RRBs, Cooperative Banks, ARCs, Factoring Companies, etc. Following shall be the registration process for secured creditors:

  1. On the portal Open Entity Registration Form using path Entity Registration -> Entity Registration
  2. User will get the following two modes of Entity Registration
    1. via CKYC
    2. via Digital signature

In case digital signature option is selected, it shall be ensured that the user has a valid Class III digital signature while registering the entity in the CERSAI 2.0 portal.

It is to be noted that users which are already using Digital Signature in CERSAI 1.0 can continue to use the same in CERSAI 2.0 also (irrespective of the class of Digital Signature) and once their Digital Signature expires they will have to procure a new Digital Signature of Class – III.

  1. The CERSAI 2.0 system will not enforce digital signature for the users with following roles: – Asset based Search – Debtor based Search – AOR search – Online Reports – MIS Reports – RMS Reports – Batch Reports. Except the above-mentioned roles, Digital Signature is mandatory for all other roles to login in CERSAI 2.0 system.
  2. Once the entity fills in the details such as employee Id, username, email ID, mobile number, date of birth, it can submit the form.
  3. Upon submission, an Entity Registration Form will open. The Form is divided into 3 tabs.
    1. First Tab is Entity User Details, which captures information related to the Entity which is being registered in CERSAI 2.0 portal.
    2. Second tab is Primary User Admin (PUA) 1 which captures information related to PUA1 of the Entity.
    3. Tab 3 captures the details of PUA2 of the entity.
  1. In the first tab, there is dropdown menu for Entity Category, which provides the following options to choose from:
    • Secured Creditor
    • ARC
    • Factoring Company
    • Revenue Authority
    • Other Creditors

The applicant shall select the appropriate category based on its nature of business.

  1. After selecting the entity category, the applicant shall choose from the drop down menu for Type of Entity, which has the following options:
    • NBFC Accepting Public Deposit
    • NBFC Not Accepting Public Deposit
    • Public Sector Bank
    • Private Bank
    • Foreign Bank
    • Intermediary
    • Housing Finance Company
    • Regional Rural Bank
    • Co-operative Bank
    • Security Trustee
    • Financial Institution
    • Local Area Bank
  2. After selecting the relevant category and entity type, and filling the mandatory details such as name, PAN, GSTIN, registration number, entity registration date, address and mail id, the applicant shall select the relevant role for which the registration is being done- such as Assignment of Receivable, Asset Reconstruction, Asset Search, AOR Search
  3. In second and third tab, the details of primary users are captured. The following mandatory details are required to be given: username, father/mother name, employee ID, email id, mobile number, date of birth, department and residential address. After filling the required details, form shall be submitted.
  4. Upon Submission, system will save the entity registration request in pending state and give a reference number to the user for tracking the entity registration request. The user shall then download the entity registration filled-up form, attach supporting documents and send to CERSAI office offline.
  5. Upon receiving the physical documents, CERSAI admin users will fetch the transaction from their Entity Registration queue and approve the request upon verifying the request against the physical documents sent by the user. If CERSAI admin user’s approval, the entity will be registered successfully, and system will send notification to the PAUs. However, if the CERSAI admin user rejects the request, the entity representative user will have to apply afresh.
  6. On successful registration of the entity, Entity Code will be generated, and system will automatically create two notional accounts for the entity in the Central Registry portal – Usable account and TDS Account.

Other creditors

In the other entities section, the following kinds of creditors may register themselves:

  • Individuals
  • BOI
  • HUFs
  • Sole Proprietorship.

The initial process shall be the same as that of registration of secured creditors (as explained above). However, the primary user tab shall not be there.

After filling all the mandatory fields and upon submission of the form, a link shall be generated for creation of password which shall be sent to the user email id provided while filling form.

After clicking on the said link, the user will enter User ID for which password need to be set. A Set Password Form will open and after filling all the mandatory fields and clicking on Reset button the password will be reset successfully.

User registered in CERSAI 2.0 portal, using Entity Registration – OC can now access the CERSAI 2.0 application using newly created User Id and Password.

Conclusion:

The new portal has come up with the solutions to technical flaws in the existing portal. However, it is yet to be seen if the CERSAI 2.0 brings some revolutionary change or is it just limited to technical upgradations. The CERSAI has also stopped taking registration requests till the new portal goes live. The registration process may have other knick knacks which shall come out once the process is operative.

 

[1]https://rbidocs.rbi.org.in/rdocs/notification/PDFs/45MD01092016B52D6E12D49F411DB63F67F2344A4E09.PDF

[2] https://rbidocs.rbi.org.in/rdocs/notification/PDFs/MD44NSIND2E910DD1FBBB471D8CB2E6F4F424F8FF.PDF

[3] https://www.rbi.org.in/Scripts/NotificationUser.aspx?Id=11439&Mode=0

 

EASE OF RECOVERY FOR NBFCS?

–  Ministry of Finance relaxes the criteria for NBFCs to be eligible for enforcing security interest under SARFAESI

-Richa Saraf (richa@vinodkothari.com)

 

The Ministry of Finance has, vide notification[1] dated 24.02.2020 (“Notification”), specified that non- banking financial companies (NBFCs), having assets worth Rs. 100 crore and above, shall be entitled for enforcement of security interest in secured debts of Rs. 50 lakhs and above, as financial institutions for the purposes of the said Act.

BACKGROUND:

RBI has, in its Financial Stability Report (FSR)[2], reported that the gross NPA ratio of the NBFC sector has increased from 6.1% as at end-March 2019 to 6.3% as at end September 2019, and has projected a further increase in NPAs till September 2020. The FSR further states that as at end September 2019, the CRAR of the NBFC sector stood at 19.5% (which is lower than 20% as at end-March 2019).

To ensure quicker recovery of dues and maintenance of liquidity, the Finance Minister had, in the Budget Speech, announced that the limit for NBFCs to be eligible for debt recovery under the SARFAESI is proposed to be reduced from Rs. 500 crores to asset size of Rs. 100 crores or loan size from existing Rs. 1 crore to Rs. 50 lakhs[3]. The Notification has been brought as a fall out of the Budget.

Our budget booklet can be accessed from the link below:

http://vinodkothari.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/02/Budget-Booklet-2020.pdf

ELIGIBILITY FOR INITIATING ACTION UNDER SARFAESI

To determine the test for eligible NBFCs, it is first pertinent to understand the terms used in the Notification.

The Notification provides that NBFCs shall be entitled for enforcement of security interest in “secured debts”. Now, the term “secured debt” has been defined under Section 2(ze) of SARFAESI to mean a debt which is secured by any security interest, and “debt” has been defined under Section 2(ha) as follows:

(ha) “debt” shall have the meaning assigned to it in clause (g) of section 2 of the Recovery of Debts Due to Banks and Financial Institutions Act, 1993 (51 of 1993) and includes-

(i) unpaid portion of the purchase price of any tangible asset given on hire or financial lease or conditional sale or under any other contract;

(ii) any right, title or interest on any intangible asset or licence or assignment of such intangible asset, which secures the obligation to pay any unpaid portion of the purchase price of such intangible asset or an obligation incurred or credit otherwise extended to enable any borrower to acquire the intangible asset or obtain licence of such asset.

Further, Section 2(g) of the Recovery of Debts Due to Banks and Financial Institutions Act, 1993, provides that the term “debt” means “any liability (inclusive of interest) which is claimed as due from any person by a bank or a financial institution or by a consortium of banks or financial institutions during the course of any business activity undertaken by the bank or the financial institution or the consortium under any law for the time being in force, in cash or otherwise, whether secured or unsecured, or assigned, or whether payable under a decree or order of any civil court or any arbitration award or otherwise or under a mortgage and subsisting on, and legally recoverable on, the date of the application and includes any liability towards debt securities which remains unpaid in full or part after notice of ninety days served upon the borrower by the debenture trustee or any other authority in whose favour security interest is created for the benefit of holders of debt securities.”

Therefore, NBFCs having asset size of Rs. 100 crores and above as per their last audited balance sheet will have the right to proceed under SARFAESI if:

  • The debt (including principal and interest) amounts to Rs. 50 lakhs or more; and
  • The debt is secured by way of security interest[4].

EFFECT OF NOTIFICATION:

An article of Economic Times[5] dated 07.02.2020 states that:

“Not many non-bank lenders are expected to use the SARFAESI Act provisions to recover debt despite the Union budget making this route accessible to more such lenders due to time-consuming administrative hurdles as well as high loan ticket limit.”

As one may understand, SARFAESI is one of the many recourses available to the NBFCs, and with the commencement of the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, the NBFCs are either arriving at a compromise with the debtors or expecting recovery through insolvency/ liquidation proceedings of the debtor. The primary reasons are as follows:

  • SARFAESI provisions will apply only when there is a security interest;
  • NBFCs usually provide small ticket loans to a large number of borrowers, but even though their aggregate exposure, on which borrowers have defaulted, is substantially high, they will not able to find recourse under SARFAESI;
  • For using the SARFAESI option, the lender will have to wait for 90 days’ time for the debt to turn NPA. Then there is a mandatory 60 days’ notice before any repossession action and a mandatory 30 days’ time before sale. Also, the debtor may file an appeal before Debt Recovery Tribunal, and the lengthy court procedures further delay the recovery.

While the notification seems to include a larger chunk of NBFCs under SARFAESI, a significant question that arises here is whether NBFCs will actually utilise the SARFAESI route for recovery?

 

[1] http://egazette.nic.in/WriteReadData/2020/216392.pdf

[2] https://m.rbi.org.in/Scripts/PublicationReportDetails.aspx?UrlPage=&ID=952

[3] https://www.indiabudget.gov.in/doc/Budget_Speech.pdf

[4] Section 2(zf) “security interest” means right, title or interest of any kind, other than those specified in section 31, upon property created in favour of any secured creditor and includes-

(i) any mortgage, charge, hypothecation, assignment or any right, title or interest of any kind, on tangible asset, retained by the secured creditor as an owner of the property, given on hire or financial lease or conditional sale or under any other contract which secures the obligation to pay any unpaid portion of the purchase price of the asset or an obligation incurred or credit provided to enable the borrower to acquire the tangible asset; or

(ii) such right, title or interest in any intangible asset or assignment or licence of such intangible asset which secures the obligation to pay any unpaid portion of the purchase price of the intangible asset or the obligation incurred or any credit provided to enable the borrower to acquire the intangible asset or licence of intangible asset.

[5] https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/industry/banking/finance/banking/not-many-nbfcs-may-use-sarfaesi-act-to-recover-loan/articleshow/74012648.cms

INSOLVENCY OF FSPS AND THIRD PARTY RIGHTS UNDER SECURITISATION CONTRACTS

-Richa Saraf

(richa@vinodkothari.com)

 

The Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016 (“Code”) does not, in general, deal with insolvency of financial service providers (“FSPs”), as FSPs are seen to be systemic and complex structures with unique transactions in their kitty. However, the Dewan Housing Finance Corporation Limited (DHFL) collapse led to notification of the Insolvency and Bankruptcy (Insolvency and Liquidation Proceedings of Financial Service Providers and Application to Adjudicating Authority) Rules, 2019[1] (“Rules”) under Section 227 of the Code. The Rules applied the law to FSPs, with certain modifications[2]. The Rules, inter alia, with respect to third party assets, stipulates that the moratorium provisions will not apply to such assets or properties in custody or possession of the FSP, including any funds, securities and other assets required to be held in trust for the benefit of third parties. The Rules further state that the Administrator shall take control and custody of such third-party assets or receivables, but only for the limited purpose of dealing with them in the manner as may be notified by the Central Government.

Pending notification of clear rules with regard to third party assets with the FSPs, there were ambiguities, which demanded judicial intervention (see below). However, now, the Central Government has, vide notification dated 30.01.2020[3] (“Notification”), notified the manner in which third party assets in custody or possession of financial service providers (against whom insolvency proceedings have been initiated) has to be dealt with.

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