The Enforcement Directorate (ED) has frozen 108 bank accounts allegedly being operated by Chandigarh district courts lawyer Mukesh Mittal and his employees in a Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) case. Most of these accounts are said to be of shell (bogus) companies, others could be personal.
The accounts, containing proceeds of property transactions in which Mittal’s employees were directly or indirectly involved over the years, are reported to have several hundreds of crores of rupees.
The ED has also recovered 214 blank cheques signed by Mittal’s employees in his house. ED sources said these cheques were used to withdraw cash deposits from the bank accounts of these companies.
It is also learnt that the ED is probing alleged online transfer of large amounts of money on Wednesday, following the raid on Tuesday. The ED had recovered a number of property deal papers from Mukesh Mittal’s house in Sector 18 and the houses of his close friends in Sector 32 and 20 during its raid on Tuesday. The house of Mittal’s munshi Ajay Singh in Dadu Majra was also raided.
Meanwhile, the ED has summoned Mukesh Mittal for questioning on January 16.
The central investigating agency is probing money laundering in property deals in Chandigarh and periphery through shell companies. Investigation into a property fraud of Sector 20 had led the ED into the case.
Ajay Singh, working as a salaried clerk with Mittal, for over a decade was arrested by the UT police vigilance cell in July 2012 in a property-grab case of Sector 22. He is a director in six companies.
Mukesh and his wife Alka, who are together directors of five companies, became directors in one of Ajay’s companies two years after Ajay joined as director. Four of these six companies are registered on the same address — SCO 128-129, Sector 8-C in various cabin numbers. Ajay was arrested in the capacity of a director of the company which once owned the property – Radhey Shayam Sarees Pvt Ltd but went into dispute and litigation.
Ajay was introduced as the director of the company by Radhey Krishan, a director of the company. The company, incidentally, is lying dormant for several years now. Its records also do not show Ajay as the director.
Other than the companies in which Mittal and his family members or employees are directors, the ED has also procured records of over a dozen companies from the registrar of companies in which Mittal, his family members or his employees are partners.
The ED has also widened the probe to include several city residents whose names figure among those who procured and deposited unsecured loans in these companies.
The companies, most of them started with a seed capital of `1 lakh each are dealing with unsecured loans worth crores. One of the bank accounts under scrutiny of the ED, named Mount Hills Services and Promoters Private Limited, over `160 crore parked in it.
Lawyer Mukesh Mittal said, “The ED has frozen the bank accounts of all my family members and friends including the account of a charitable trust run by us for orphan children. They have taken away my clients’ cheques and case files. The ED thrashed my munshi Ajay Singh and got a four-page statement signed against me.”
Anticipatory bails opposed
The anticipatory bail applications of munshis of Mukesh Mittal-Praveen Kumar and Ajay Singh- and driver Lal Chand and an advocate Ashok came up for hearing before the court of additional district and sessions judge Shalini Nagpal at Chandigarh district courts. The ED opposed the applications and told the court that they needed to interrogate them.
It also contended that the court was not competent to hear it. The next date in the hearing has been fixed for January 17.
Estate office under the scanner
The ED is also probing the angle of how the estate office used to help out in property transactions. In a number of cases, No Objection Certificates (NOCs) were issued. To probe it, the investigating agency has summoned Ashwani Kumar, former assistant estate officer at Chandigarh who figures in many of the deals under probe. He was a Haryana Civil Service (HCS) officer and had retired in 2013. Ashwani Kumar told HT that he had been summoned on January 16 by ED.
“I am ready to cooperate with the ED. I left the department four years ago. Granting an NOC is just a procedure. I have already been given clean chit by the Chandigarh administration,” he said.