Bahujan Vikas Aghadi (BVA) president and MLA Hirendra Thakur. (HT FILE)
Bahujan Vikas Aghadi (BVA) president and MLA Hirendra Thakur. (HT FILE)

PMC Bank case: ED raids MLA Hitendra Thakur’s office, premises of Viva Group

Five premises belonging to Viva Group, owned by Hitendra Thakur’s family, and its associates were searched on Friday.
By Vijay Kumar Yadav and Ram Parmar, Mumbai
PUBLISHED ON JAN 23, 2021 12:35 AM IST

The Enforcement Directorate (ED) officials conducted raids at five locations including the office of Bahujan Vikas Aghadi (BVA) president and MLA Hirendra Thakur and premises of the directors of Viva Group in Vasai-Virar and Palghar areas in connection with the Punjab and Maharashtra Cooperative (PMC) Bank scam case. ED officials confirmed the development.

Five premises belonging to Viva Group, owned by Thakur’s family, and its associates that were searched on Friday included registered office of Viva Group in Virar, residential premise of concerned person of Viva Group in Virar, one associated office premise of Viva Group in Andheri, and two residential premises of two financial consultants of Viva Group in Juhu and Chembur. During search, 73 lakh cash, incriminating digital and documentary evidences have been recovered.

The anti-money laundering agency is carrying out searches as part of their probe in the alleged diversion of funds to Viva Group from Housing Development Infrastructure Limited (HDIL) and its subsidiary companies.

HDIL is accused of defrauding PMC Bank of over 6,670 crore by fraudulently obtaining nearly 70% of the bank’s overall loans.

One of the HDIL subsidiaries controlled by Pravin Raut is suspected to have diverted funds to Viva Groups. ED has already provisionally attached properties worth 72 crore belonging to Pravin Raut under Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) in the PMC Bank fraud case.

Raut is former director of Guruashish Constructions Private Limited, a subsidiary of HDIL group.

Commenting on the development, Hitendra Thakur said, “We were prepared for ED’s visit after the action on Raut. Around 35-40 personnel from ED in seven big vehicles arrived at our Virar office at 9.30am and they are still present. We are cooperating with ED as we have nothing to hide. All our dealings are through cheques and are in black and white. Regarding political vendetta I can only say, wait and watch. We are prepared to answer all their queries and are even willing to visit ED office. We have nothing to hide.”

ED had begun money laundering probe in the PMC Bank case after Mumbai Police’s economic offences wing (EOW) registered a criminal case in September 2019 against HDIL, its promoters Rakesh Wadhawan and Sarang Wadhawan, former chairman Waryam Singh, former chairman and managing director Joy Thomas, and others for causing loss in thousands of crores to PMC Bank and corresponding gain to themselves.

Prosecution complaint has been filed against Rakesh Wadhawan and others under PMLA. Investigation also revealed that Wadhawans, in connivance with Viva Group, have diverted more than 160 crore from HDIL to many companies/entities belonging to Viva Group in the garb of commission. Source of these funds from HDIL to Viva group is apparently the illegal fund diversion from PMC Bank.

ED has also initiated investigation in another case against Rakesh and Sarang Wadhawan and others for siphoning 200 crore sanctioned by Yes Bank to one Mack Star Marketing Pvt Ltd. This loan was siphoned by Wadhawans by showing it for fictitious purpose.

During investigation under PMLA, it is revealed that Wadhawans illegally and fraudulently transferred two commercial properties of Mack Star in Kaledonia building, Andheri (East), Mumbai valued at 34.36 crore to Viva Holding, a company of Viva Group. For the transfer of the said two properties, two separate sale agreements dated June 26, 2017 were prepared wherein sale value for both the subject commercial properties were shown as 34.36 crore in total. In the said sale agreement, the purchase amount were shown to be paid vide 37 cheques by Viva Holding to Mack Star Marketing Pvt Ltd against the purchase of the said properties.

Investigation has revealed that these cheques were never encashed in the account of Mack Star, and Viva Holding never made payments for the purchase of the said property. Wadhawans had illegally transferred these properties to Viva Group in violation to the article of association of Mack Star. Further, Viva Holding never showed these properties in its Balance Sheets.

ED has earlier stated that the investigation under PMLA has revealed that 95 crore has been siphoned through HDIL by Raut, one of the accused, in active conspiracy and connivance with various persons. The sources of the funds were illegally availed loans or advances etc by HDIL from PMC Bank. There was no document or agreement in support of these payments made to Raut. Further, as per the ledger of HDIL, the funds were given to Raut for acquiring land in Palghar area.

ED’s investigation also revealed that Raut paid 1.6 crore to his wife Madhuri from the Proceeds of crime. Of the said money, Madhuri transferred 55 lakh ( 50 lakh on December 23, 2010 and 5 lakh on March 15, 2011) as interest-free loan to Varsha Raut, wife of Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut. The amount was further utilised for purchase of flat in Dadar (East), Mumbai, ED said.

Investigation further revealed that Varsha Raut and Madhuri Raut are partners in Avani Construction. Varsha Raut has received 12 lakh from this entity as overdrawn capital converted to loan, on a contribution of mere 5,625. The loan amount still remains outstanding, ED stated.

ED had earlier questioned Varsha Raut in this connection and has summoned her again for second round of questioning.

The central agency had earlier attached several properties of Rakesh Wadhawan, Wadhawan Family trust and others amounting to 293 crore in the PMC Bank fraud case. Jewellery worth 63 crore was also seized. A prosecution complaint has been filed by ED against Rakesh Wadhawan and others for money laundering.

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