A Dubai-based real estate development firm owned by the arrested promoters of Dewan Housing Finance Limited (DHFL), Kapil Wadhawan and Dheeraj Wadhawan, gifted four properties to the late gangster Iqbal Mirchi’s son Asif Iqbal Memon in 2015, an Enforcement Directorate (ED) investigation has found.
Sources told The Indian Express that in 2015, Dheeraj and East Coast LLC (DEC) transferred four commercial properties of area totalling over 2,900 sq ft in Marsa, Dubai, to Memon without any monetary consideration.
The company also sold 10 commercial properties at Dubai’s Business Bay financial district to Memon for 4.5 million Emirati dirham (about Rs 9 crore), a discount of over 57 per cent on the prevailing market price. The ED has found the market price of these properties was AED 10.6 million (over Rs 21 crore)
The ED has provisionally attached all these 14 properties, along with Hotel Midwest in Dubai, owned by the Asif Memon, his brother Junaid, and their mother Hazra Iqbal, in connection with the money laundering case against Iqbal Mirchi. According to the ED, these properties are together valued at about Rs 203 crore. The total value of all attachments in this case so far has now reached Rs 776 crore, says the ED.
The Wadhawans came under the ED’s scanner in October 2019, when an investigation into the alleged money laundering activities of Iqbal Mirchi, a close aide of Dawood Ibrahim, discovered a Rs 225 crore land deal between Mirchi and Sunblink Real Estate Pvt Ltd , a company associated with DHFL. According to the ED, the land deal was negotiated on behalf of Dheeraj Wadhawan.
That same month, a forensic audit conducted by KPMG on behalf of the lenders of DHFL found a diversion of over Rs 19,000 crore of bank loans to DHFL’s related entities.
DHFL, which owes Rs 83,873 crore to banks, mutual funds and investors, became the first non-banking finance company (NBFC) to be referred to the bankruptcy court for resolution by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) in November 2019. The RBI superseded the board of DHFL and appointed a three-member advisory body to advise the RBI-appointed administrator of the company.
In January 2020, a month after filing the chargesheet in the Mirchi case, the ED arrested Kapil Wadhawan. However, a local court granted bail to Wadhawan on February 21. The court in its order said the assets of DHFL did not appear to be the proceeds of crime, as claimed by the ED.
Dheeraj Wadhawan has obtained anticipatory bail from a Mumbai court.
The Wadhawans landed in trouble once again after the ED registered a money laundering case against Yes Bank co-founder Rana Kapoor for allegedly receiving over Rs 600 crore in kickbacks for loans given by the bank to DHFL.
In April, Maharashtra Police arrested the Wadhawan brothers for breaking the lockdown enforced to contain the spread of Covid-19. The Wadhawans had allegedly travelled from a guest house in Khandala to their farmhouse, Dewan Villa, at Mahabaleshwar with 21 other people, including some relatives.
Subsequently, the ED took custody of the brothers in connection with the Yes Bank case.
Last month, Bombay High Court granted bail to the brothers on the ground that the ED had failed to file its chargesheet against them in the Yes Bank case on time. The ED has moved the Supreme Court, which has stayed the High Court order until October 7.
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