The investigations by the special investigating team (SIT) have revealed the Bhujbals allegedly laundered money through a maze of Kolkata-based companies.
Sources said the investigators have found 11 Kolkata-based companies, which invested in companies allegedly promoted by the Bhujbals. The ED has alleged the Bhujbals accepted cash in lieu of projects to contractors and channelled the illegal cash into various companies and integrated it into the business activities of the group companies.
Explaining the modus operandi of the alleged conversion of black money to white, an officer said, “The money was accepted in cash and was later used in shell companies. The Kolkata-based companies were investors in their family companies. The team found many of these companies were bogus,” said an officer.
Sources said the shares were purchased at inflated rates. “It is a general rationale that one would invest in profit-making and huge companies. In this case, the Kolkata-based companies bought shares at inflated rates from companies that were not very big. This raised our suspicion,” said the officer.
ED, in its investigations pointed out, “Shri Sunil Naik, chartered accountant deposed that shares of M/s. Parvesh Construction Pvt Ltd and M/s. Armstrong Energy Pvt Ltd, the firms owned and controlled by Bhujbals, were sold to dubious entities against cash at unrealistic high premiums of Rs990 a share and funds to the tune of Rs75 crore and Rs50 crore respectively were channeled by the method.”
ED investigations further revealed that, “Suresh Jajodia, a market operator named by Sunil Naik, confirmed that as instructed by Sunil Naik, he had arranged funds in the bank accounts of M/s. Armstrong Energy Pvt Ltd against cash that he used to receive from the MET office of Bhujbals at Bandra and used to transfer it to his Kolkata-based contacts by using services of certain domestic hawala operators.”
Investigators also stumbled upon evidence pointing out the veracity of Kolkata-based companies. Sources said the auditor of the firms in Kolkata, which were said to have invested in companies allegedly promoted by the Bhujbals and their associates, told them the signature and stamps on the audit reports of the firms is not his.