April 20, 2016 3:09:51 am
Kickbacks were routed through a complex web of six front companies floated allegedly by the Bhujbals in the Maharashtra Sadan building construction case, according to the Maharashtra Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) chargesheet.
Six shell companies — Origin Infrastructure Pvt Ltd, Ideen Furniture Pvt Ltd, Parvesh Construction Pvt Ltd, Niche Infrastructure Pvt Ltd, Bhavesh builders Pvt Ltd and Armstrong Energy Pvt Ltd — were allegedly floated by the Bhujbals to receive bribe money from contractor KS Chamankar, which was awarded the project of constructing the Maharashtra Sadan Building in New Delhi when NCP leader Chhagan Bhujbal was the state PWD minister, according to the chargesheet.
The former deputy CM and his nephew, Samir Bhujbal, have been arrested in a money laundering case linked to the scam. Both Samir and Chhagan are now lodged at Mumbai’s Arthur Road jail.
According to the chargesheet, a copy of which is with The Indian Express, the directors of Origin Infrastructure were Sanjay Joshi and Iram Sheikh. While Joshi was an accountant with Bhujbal’s Mumbai Education Trust (MET), Sheikh’s husband Tanvir was an employee with the trust. Between October 2007 and August 2008, KS Chamankar Enterprises paid Origin Infrastructure Rs 67.71 lakh. The money was paid towards “furniture work” carried out by Origin Infrastructure in the suites and rooms of Maharashtra Sadan. The ACB says the money was an installment of the bribe promised by Chamankar. Another installment of Rs 6.03 lakh towards “furniture work” was paid to Origin Infrastructure by KS Chamankar Enterprises between September 2010 and March 2013. “… this payment was nothing but bribe amount paid in lieu of the contract,” the chargesheet states.
Origin Infrastructure in turn entered into a contract with Ideen Furniture. The directors of Ideen Furniture are Shafali Bhujbal and Vishakha Bhujbal, Chhagan’s daughter-in-laws. Between 2008 and 2012, Ideen Furniture received Rs 74.10 lakh from Origin Infrastructure.
The ACB has attached the screen shot of a Google search showing the address of Ideen Furniture office the same as that of Bhujbal’s trust office — 8th floor, MET Building, Bandra. The agency has also attached the search results of Ideen furniture on Indiamart.com, an e-commerce portal, on February 21 this year. The agency has also recorded the statement of Irana Belibhavi, an employee of MET who used to manage the operations of both Ideen Furniture and Origin Infrastructure from the trust’s office in Bandra.
During the same period, Origin Infrastructure also paid Rs 45 lakh to Bhavesh Construction, whose directors are Samir and Pankaj Bhujbal.
Another front company, Niche Infrastructure, received two sums of Rs 9 crore and Rs 4.5 crore between 2008 and 2013. While Rs 9 crore was paid by Royal Enterprises, Rs 4.5 crore was paid by Rajesh Mistry. Interestingly, both Royal Enterprises and Mistry received the same amount they transferred to Niche Infrastructure from another company, Harmony Infrastructure and Properties. The amounts were transferred either on the same date or the next date of receipt by the two to Niche Infrastructure.
“The directors of Harmony Infrastructure and Properties are same as that of Prime Builders and Developers, which acquired 4.4 per cent share when the Maharashtra Sadan project was acquired by L&T Asian Realty Project LLP in 2011… This was another front company floated to pay kickbacks,” the chargesheet states.
Royal Enterprises and Mistry have claimed they entered into an unregistered agreement with Niche Infrastructure for redevelopment of Saikunj building in Dadar (E); Rs 13.5 crore was paid to Niche Infrastructure, according to the unregistered agreement. However, when the agency inquired about this with the Maharashtra Housing and Area Development Authority, they stated that from 2008 till date Niche Infrastructure had never shared any plans of redevelopment of this building.
Niche Infrastructure in turn paid Bhavesh Builders and Armstrong Energy Rs 34 lakh and Rs 50 lakh, respectively. Between 2008 and 2013, the company also paid Rs 12. 91 crore to Parvesh Construction. Samir and Pankaj are the directors of these companies, the chargesheet says.
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