Nineteen alleged “shell companies” owned by relatives of senior government officials who bought scattered plots less than four months before they was acquired by the government; exchange of money through a now defunct cooperative bank in Ghaziabad; cheques of smaller amounts for monetary transactions — this was the modus operandi of the accused in the Rs 126-crore land scam under the Yamuna Expressway Industrial Development Authority (YEIDA), an internal probe has found.
The scam relates to the acquisition of around 58 hectares in “scattered pockets” in seven villages along the Yamuna Expressway. Last week, a case of corruption, forgery and cheating was lodged at Kasna police station against 21 persons — including former YEIDA CEO P K Gupta, government officials and their relatives. “These people bought land at low rates from farmers, two-four months before it was acquired by YEIDA at rates that were two or more times higher. Due to this, the
Authority as well as farmers, incurred huge losses and these people profited illegally. In order to hide the scam, the accused hid their names by forming sham companies. By mutual agreement, they forged documents and made false claims to form these companies,” reads the inquiry report submitted by YEIDA officials to the Authority’s chairperson and district police.
The FIR was registered after the report was submitted to the YEIDA chairperson and Meerut Commissioner Prabhat Kumar. While police teams have conducted raids at various places in the district, including residences and offices of the accused, no arrests have been made so far. On Wednesday, sections of the UP Gangster Act were added to the FIR, and lookout notices were issued against some accused after police suspected they fled the country.
The report further throws light on the manner in which money exchanged hands. “The compensation was also given very cleverly — through cheques in smaller amounts of Rs 30 lakh. Due to this, the same piece of land was registered more than once and the Authority lost money in numerous registrations for the same plot. Cheques of smaller amount were given so that they do not draw attention. These were given to six people… through a bank… which is no longer operational… It seems that bank officials and workers were also hand-in-glove with the accused,” said the report.
A government official, on the condition of anonymity, pointed to one example of the money trail. “In one case involving the relative of a government official who is an accused in the case and on the board of one of the alleged shell companies, there are records of how that money eventually went to the official. The relative got compensation from the Authority through that cooperative bank based in Ghaziabad. She then wrote a cheque to the government official for the exact sum which was given to her by the Authority,” said the official.