At the centre of the alleged scam involving RJD chief Lalu Prasad and his family is a three-acre slice of premium land in Patna, most of which is being developed as Bihar’s “biggest shopping mall” by Meridian Construction (India) Limited, a firm owned by Syed Abu Dojana, RJD MLA from Sursand in Sitamarhi.
Records being investigated by the CBI include a purported contract between Dojana and Prasad’s daughter Chanda, which shows that 57 per cent of the complex under construction on this land at Saguna More in Danapur would be owned by her while 43 per cent would be allocated to the developer.
The agreement, signed by Dojana on May 5, 2016, states: “The developer will pay a non-refundable amount of Rs 5 crore to the land owner…out of which Rs 1 crore to be paid immediately while Rs 4 crore in four equal installments. If the developer fails to pay non-refundable security deposits, he will be liable to pay an 18 per cent interest for the delayed period…”
The agreement further states: “If the developer fails to construct the mall within 48 months and after a grace period of six months, his allocation shall stand reduced by 1 per cent per annum, which means for a delay of 1 year, the developer will dilute his stake from the present 43 to 42 per cent.”
When contacted by The Indian Express, Dojana refused to discuss his financial transactions with Prasad’s family. Asked about the status of the project, said to be worth Rs 500 crore, Dojana said, “Work on the project has been stalled in the absence of environmental clearances.”
In its FIR, the CBI has alleged that this three-acre parcel was sold at a throwaway price to Prasad’s family in exchange for the railway ministry handing over the maintenance of two hotels in Ranchi and Puri in 2006, to Sujata Hotels Pvt Ltd, a company owned by Patna-based businessmen Vinay and Vijay Kochhar. Prasad was railway minister between 2004 and 2009.
The land, according to CBI, was sold by the Kochhars to Delight Marketing Company Pvt Ltd (DMCL), a Delhi-based firm, with its registered address at New Friends Colony.
According to the Registrar of Companies (RoC), DMCL was incorporated on June 10, 1981, with Prasad’s sons — Bihar Deputy Chief Minister Tejashwi Prasad and Health Minister Tej Pratap — and daughter Chanda as its directors since 2014. In August 2016, another daughter of Prasad, Ragini, was inducted as a director.
According to RoC documents, Prasad’s wife Rabri Devi and their two sons are shareholders in the firm. Tejashwi did not mention this property in his assembly election affidavit in 2015.
RoC records also show that DMCL changed names twice recently — to LARA Projects Private Limited on November 2, 2016, and LARA Projects LLP, a limited liability partnership firm, on February 14, 2017.
One of the sale deeds linked to the land in Patna shows that 105 decimal “agricultural” land was sold (deed 1490, khata 94, plot 55, Danapur) to Delight on February 25, 2005, for Rs 15.85 lakh by the Kochhars. Records identify the director of Delight at time of the purchase as Mangi Lal Rustagi.
Records show that Rabri and Tejashwi (one share) first became shareholders of Delight in 2010-11 with the transfer of shares by Sarla Gupta, the wife of RJD Rajya Sabha MP Prem Chand Gupta, the then stakeholder of the company. Later, records show, the remaining 1,101 shares of the company were transferred to mother and son.
Records show that the total book value of assets of the company in 2010-11 and 2013-14, when shares were transferred to Lalu’s family, were Rs 2,28,66,748 and Rs 2,29,26,336, respectively.
According to records being investigated by the CBI, the ownership of the company went to Prasad’s family for just Rs 4,02,000, according to the value of shares held by Rabri and Tejashwi at the time of the transfer.
ROC records show that the management of the company changed in 2014 when Prasad’s family took over Delight completely. Records show that its directors at the time — Deoki Nandan Tulshyan and Gaurav Gupta — resigned on February 11, 2014, and another director Vijay Pal Tripathi resigned on June 26, 2014.
Tej Pratap and Tejashwi were appointed additional directors of the company on January 6, 2014, Chanda on June 26, 2014, and Ragini on August 5, 2016, records show.
When the firm was renamed LARA Projects LLP on February 14, 2017, Prasad’s daughters dissociated themselves and Rabri was inducted as a designated partner along with her two sons.
During investigation, CBI sources said, the agency also found that the object of DMCL was changed in RoC records. The company was initially set up for import and export of goods but later changed to construction activities.