An investigation by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) has found that Dheeraj Wadhawan, promoter of Dewan Housing Finance Ltd (DHFL) along with a few of his associates met gangster Iqbal Memon aka Iqbal Mirchi, a close aide of Dawood Ibrahim, multiple times in London, between March and August 2010 to negotiate a land deal between Mirchi and Sunblink Real Estate Pvt Ltd, a company linked to Wadhawan.
The money laundering probe into the Rs 225-crore Worli land deal between Sunblink and Mirchi has found that expenses for these London meetings with Mirchi were borne by Dheeraj Wadhawan’s firms — RKW Developers Pvt Ltd and Wadhawan Holdings Pvt Ltd. The investigation has found that the meetings between Mirchi and Wadhawan and his associates were held at a prominent restaurant in London. The ED has arrested two associates of Dheeraj Wadhawan — Ranjit Singh Bindra and Humayun Merchant, who were also present in few of these meetings in London.
Emails to DHFL and its chief executive officer did not elicit any response.
The probe agency has also alleged that at least Rs 111 crore paid by Sunblink to a few alleged associates of Mirchi in India for the Worli- land deal was arranged from DHFL and RKW Developers. The ED probe has alleged that to complete the land deal, Sunblink took a loan of about Rs 100 crore from DHFL in 2010. Sunblink, subsequently repaid this loan to DHFL in 2018 by taking a loan of about Rs 180 crore from RKW Developers at an interest rate of about 6 per cent per annum.
According to the investigation, at least 14 entities and persons allegedly received Rs 111 crore from Sunblink and ultimately routed this money to Mirchi. Apart from this the ED has alleged that Sunblink paid another Rs 154 crore to Mirchi through an entity in Dubai. Earlier in January, news portal Cobrapost reported that three firms linked to Wadhawan — RKW Developers, Skill Realtors Pvt Ltd. and Darshan Developers Pvt Ltd. donated of Rs 19.5 crore to the Bharatiya Janata Party between the financial years 2014–15 and 2016–17.
DHFL, which owes Rs 83,873 crore owes to banks, mutual funds and investors, is the first non-banking financial company (NBFC) to be referred to the bankruptcy court for resolution by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) last month. The RBI has superseded the board of DHFL and has appointed a three-member advisory body to advise the RBI appointed administrator of the company.
The ED on Wednesday said it has provisionally attached properties worth Rs 600 crore of Iqbal Mirchi, including two floors of Ceejay House in Worli, Mumbai, developed by Millennium Developer Pvt Ltd; three properties in Worli — Rabia mansion, Marium Lodge and Sea View sold to Sunblink; flats at Sahil Bungalow again in Worli, Mumbai, three prime commercial shops at Crawford Market and bungalows and land (more than 5 acre) in Lonavala, Maharashtra .
The ED probe has also identified over two dozen overseas properties of Mirchi in UK and Dubai. The agency has found that most of the business ventures of Mirchi in UK and Dubai were making losses and the late gangster Mirchi, was allegedly using a UAE-based firm Mihaj Investment Corporation Ltd, to pump in money generated allegedly from his criminal activities in India into these loss making firms, including his two hotels in Dubai.
The agency probe has also found that Mirchi and a few of his associates misled the court and the competent authority of Smugglers and Foreign Exchange Manipulators (Forfeiture of Property) Act (SAFEMA) of the Finance Ministry on the ownership of properties in India to avoid confiscation of properties.