Subhash Dudani (63), the alleged kingpin of the Rs 5,000-crore illegal trade of banned Mandrax tablets, is being probed by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) for alleged diversion of about Rs 100 crore borrowed from state-owned lenders, Indian Overseas Bank (IOB) and the IDBI Bank, sources told The Indian Express.
According to investigators, the CBI in 2015 booked Dudani-promoted Sun Opticals Mastering Pvt Ltd for diversion of loan funds.
On October 28, the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) seized 23.5 metric tonnes of Mandrax tablets from Udaipur-based Marudhar Drinks and arrested Dudani with the help of the Border Security Force (BSF). Mandrax or Methaqualone is a banned psychotropic substance under Schedule I of the NDPS Act, 1985. Mandrax is used as a recreational drug in Africa and Asia. Commonly known as M-Pills, buttons or smarties, it is usually smoked mixed with cannabis. Its overdose can lead to coma and death.
In fact, four days before the arrest of Dudani in one of the biggest ever drug seizures, Indian Overseas Bank had auctioned the plant and machinery of Sun Opticals in Udaipur to recover its dues of over Rs 40 crore, according to a September 19 auction notice of IOB. The company also owes over Rs 60 crore to IDBI Bank. Sun Opticals is a fully export-oriented unit that allegedly manufactures blank CDs and DVDs, according to the records of the Registrar of Companies (RoC).
Dudani runs six companies, including Sun Opticals, and the investigation agency is now looking into the financial records of the companies to see if they are “genuine or front”, said sources.
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Who is Dudani and what is his real business?
While investigators are still interrogating Dudani on his alleged involvement in the illegal manufacture and export of Mandrax to South Africa and the Mozambique, sources said that Udaipur-born Dudani, a post-graduate in Zoology, moved to Mumbai in 2009 after his business in Dubai and Hong Kong collapsed. He was forced to close his two firms — Dubai-based Planet Optical Disc and Balkhan Ltd Co in Hong Kong — due to financial problems and to repay loans due to foreign banks. These firms used to manufacture CDs, DVDs and trade in optical goods.
After moving to Mumbai, he floated several companies and borrowed from banks, said sources. Dudani owns at least four properties in Mumbai and a parcel of land in an industrial estate in Udaipur, which has now been raided by the DRI for illegal storage of Mandrax.
Interestingly, in 1991, Dudani was booked by the airport customs for smuggling Rs 13.27 lakh of foreign currency, said a source. He, according to sources, has also dabbled in Bollywood films. He co-produced a film — Vikalp — starring Deepal Shaw and Alok Nath in 2011 which reportedly bombed at the box office. However, it is not certain if Dudani produced any other film.
“In case of Dudani, most illegal exports of Mandrax happened through the Mundra Port,” said a source.
Investigators have also found that Dudani had learnt to prepare acetic anhydride—the main ingredient used for preparing Mandrax, on his own. In Udaipur, Dudani and his associates allegedly prepared acetic anhydride at Srinath Industries in Rajsamand, the ingredient was then sent to Mewar Chemical, where Mandrax tablets were manufactured and then stored at the premises of Marudhar Drinks.