The Enforcement Directorate (ED), which is probing the alleged multi-crore Slum Rehabilitation Authority (SRA) development scam, plans to summon former Congress Member of Legislative Assembly (MLA) Baba Siddique once again as the agency was not satisfied with his answers. The former MLA had been questioned on June 9 by the agency for over nine hours. According to sources, Siddique would be called soon to join the investigation.
Meanwhile, the agency has written to SRA and the Controller of Rationing and Director of Civil Supplies. The latter has been approached to verify the list of the tenants as the agency suspects that the list was forged to get the consent on the redevelopment. “We have sought the details of the plot, FSI sanctioned, tenant list and other redevelopment-related details from the SRA,” a senior official from ED, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said.
The central agency is investigating if Siddiqui, as the chairman of Maharashtra Housing and Area Development Authority (MHADA) between 2000 and 2004, misused his position to help Pyramid Developers bag the SRA project that was being developed in Bandra in the western suburban Mumbai.
The ED is also investigating if Pyramid Developers is a front company floated by the Congress leader and the money made through the sale of flats laundered to create assets. “The details from SRA will help us ascertain if indeed Siddique breached his brief and misused his position to help the developer get the project,” added the official.
On the point of approaching the rationing authority, the official said this has been done to check if the tenants listed by the developer was genuine or not. “We will compare the list given by the rationing authority with that of the SRA. This would help us ascertain who were the genuine tenants and probe if indeed the project had the requisite consent or the consent were forged,” added the official.
A case under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA), 2002, has been registered against Siddique and others by the ED.
According to sources, while the alleged scam is pegged at Rs 2,000 crore, the agency is currently concentrating on Rs 100 crore which it suspects the developer made by selling a few flats in the under-construction project located in one of the prime real estates of suburban Mumbai.
“We have interrogated his aide in the past, who has revealed that a few flats have been already sold by the developer. Going by that, Siddique was quizzed specifically on the money earned through the sale of these flats,” said another senior official who spoke on the condition of anonymity.
The predicate offence was registered by the Mumbai Police in March 2014. Based on the complaint filed by a resident, Abdul Salaam, in 2012, the Bandra police registered a case against Siddique and 150 others for the alleged irregularities in the allotment of houses in the SRA project. The police action was initiated after a metropolitan magistrate court ordered a probe into the case.
Explaining the irregularities, a source revealed that the development of the project under SRA scheme was undertaken by Pyramid Developers at the cost of Rs 90 crore. Subsequently, Pyramid Developers sold the plot to Satra Group and the two entered a joint development agreement which included equal sharing of the flats. This allowed each of the developers the rights to sell 40 flats each. The agency suspect that the revenue generated by the sale of these super luxury apartments would be around Rs 1,800-2,000 crore. Sources claim that Siddique, who was the chairman of MHADA between 2000 and 2004, allegedly misused his position to increase the floor space index (FSI).
In May, the ED had carried out searches at seven different locations in connection with the case.