At a time when Lalit Modi’s links with Vasundhara Raje are under the scanner, official sources have questioned the purchase of two heritage havelis in Jaipur, allegedly at throwaway prices, by the former IPL chief and his wife in 2006 during the BJP leader’s previous stint as Rajasthan CM.
Sources said that when Modi and Minal acquired the havelis in the Amber Palace zone through the Heritage City Construction Pvt Ltd (HCCPL), Minal was a member of the Amber Development and Management Authority (ADMA) set up by the Raje government to restore and conserve heritage monuments in Jaipur.
In 2010, after the Congress came to power in Rajasthan, the two havelis — Chhabdon ki Haveli and Bairathi ki Haveli, allegedly acquired for Rs 9 lakh and Rs 21 lakh — were seized by the Jaipur Municipal Corporation.
Sources said the seizure was ordered after it emerged that the two havelis had been sold illegally by people who had encroached upon government property.
The havelis have since been transferred to the state archaeology department, sources said.
ED officials unearthed Modi’s links to the havelis while probing suspected forex violations by Modi’s company, Ananda Heritage Hotels Pvt Ltd (AHHPL).
It was found that he took control of the company shortly after its two former directors had acquired the two havelis, sources said.
The ED also found that AHHPL was the new name of HCCPL, which was incorporated on August 21, 2006 and registered with Registrar of Companies, Jaipur.
As initial directors of HCCPL, Sajjan and Rohar each held 5,000 shares at Rs 10 per share. The authorised capital was Rs 22 crore, with 22 lakh shares of Rs 10 per share.
The registered address of HCCPL at Ashok Vihar, in Jaipur’s Sanganer area, was later found to have been bogus, ED sources said.
When contacted, Anoop Bartaria, one of the co-directors of AHHPL, said: “The company did not undertake any projects, nor did I see any professional activity happening there.”
Bartaria said he came in contact with Modi while consulting for the Rajasthan Cricket Association to build a world-class stadium, on the lines of the Melbourne Cricket Ground, in Jaipur.
“But the project failed to take off since the land allocation made to it was apparently cancelled,” said Bartaria, adding that Modi later invited him to be a director in AHHPL.
Bartaria said he accepted Modi’s offer to be a “professional director” in the firm on August 18, 2014.
According to a timeline detailed by official sources, this is how the properties and the company allegedly changed hands:
March 20, 2007: Sajjan and Rohar transferred 4,950 shares each of HCCPL to Minal.
March 31: The name of the company was changed to AHHPL.
September 18: Modi and Minal were added as directors of the company.
September 8, 2008: Sajjan and Rohar resigned as directors.
January 2, 2009: Sajjan and Rohar transferred their remaining 50 shares each to Modi.The ED is also probing suspected forex violations in the manner in which AHHPL received a little over Rs 21 crore from Wilton Investment Ltd with a registered address in Ebene Skies, Ruede, Institute Eben, Mauritius.
The Mauritius-based company was shown to have purchased 2,10,83,348 shares of AHHPL at Rs 10 per share.
The ED has also found that part of the funds Modi’s company received from Mauritius was invested in Niyant Heritage Hotels Pvt Ltd (NHHPL), in which Raje’s son Dushyant Singh and his wife Niharika are directors. Both held 5,000 shares each at Rs 10 per share, and the authorised capital of the company was Rs. 10 lakh.
Sources said that AHHPL allegedly gave an unsecured loan to NHHPL amounting to Rs 3.8 crore, and also purchased NHHPL shares of Rs 10 per share at an inordinate Rs 96,190 per share in two tranches. On April 1, 2008, AHHPL bought 395 NHHPL shares for Rs 3.79 crore and on September 21, 2009 acquired 420 shares for Rs 4.03 crore.