Actor Sachiin Joshi sent to judicial custody in ₹87-cr money laundering case
- The ED claims its investigations in the case has revealed that the loans availed by Omkar Group from Yes Bank have been diverted and accused Sachiin Joshi had helped promoters of Omkar Group in diversion for an amount of at least ₹87 crore.
Businessman and Bollywood actor Sachiin Joshi, arrested by Enforcement Directorate (ED) on February 14 for his alleged involvement in the money laundering case, has been remanded to judicial custody by a special Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) court on Monday.
ED officials on Monday informed the court that the actor has not provided the required information regarding the laundering of proceeds of crime and sought his further custody for seven more days. However, the defense lawyer opposed the same saying nothing new has emerged in the ED's investigation.
The special PMLA judge Abhijeet Nandgaonkar refused to extend Joshi's ED custody and remanded him to 14-days judicial custody.
The ED claim its investigations in the case has so far revealed that the loans availed by Omkar Group from Yes Bank have been diverted and accused Sachiin Joshi, son of Gutkha baron JM Joshi, had helped promoters of Omkar Group in diversion for an amount of at least ₹87 crore.
Joshi's name came to the fore when the anti-money laundering agency was scanning documents seized during the search and seizure operation carried out at the premises of Omkar Developers last month.
The ED came across certain documents related to payments of ₹87 crore to certain outside entities (Viikings Group of companies owned by Joshi). During initial investigation, Babulal Varma and Kamal Kishore Gupta (both previously arrested by ED) had stated that these payments were made for slum evacuation and slum rehabilitation services (for certain SRA projects) and part of it was investment. However, the claim later turned out to be false.
The ED said that funds were received by Joshi and his companies from various companies of Omkar Group. Part of the funds was shown as investment and part of them was shown as payment received for rendering services.
When questioned about funds received as investment, the accused (Joshi) had stated that same were towards development of land near Pune. However, there was no definitive agreement between the Omkar Group and Viiking Group with respect to such a huge investment, the ED said.
"It is very surprising that an amount of ₹48 crore is shown as an
investment but except for a simple term sheet dated March 15, 2019, no
definite agreement is made. On analysing the actual utilization of the funds it shows that the said funds were utilized for various purposes such as repayment of loans, various expenses etc. However, no expense is seen to be incurred towards the stated purpose of investment," ED stated in their remand application.
When ED confronted Joshi about it he simply stated that it was verbally agreed between the promoters of Omkar group and him that till full payment is received he can use the received funds according to his needs.
"The said reply of the accused is clearly evasive and does not reflect the true nature of the transaction. It clearly appears that the said term sheet of investment is simply used to disguise the real intention of diversion of funds received from Omkar Group of companies and park these funds on the behalf of promoters of Omkar Group. It can be seen that any prudent business transaction would involve definite black and white agreement about investment/utilization of such huge funds," the ED added.
The agency said that the investigations regarding the funds received against various invoices raised by the accused, showed that the purpose mentioned in the said invoices were for facilitating settlement of non-eligible tenants and possession of constructed rehabilitation units, help in getting
consents from society, slum dwellers, committee members, brokerage towards land deal, etc. (for some SRA projects). However, when Joshi was interrogated about whether any such actual services were rendered, he stated that no actual slum rehabilitation work was done by him but he was involved in facilitation with Omkar Group, where Omkar Group was to use his name and brand name in order to rehabilitate the tenants/settle with the tenants.
"This reply of the accused is clearly devoid of any truth and thus evasive. Use of brand name and/or goodwill for settlement of non-eligible tenants appears to be very farfetched in the light of the fact that neither accused nor his companies had ever done any SRA related work or Slum Rehabilitation Authority project. He himself stated that actual work was done by persons of Omkar Group only. Thus for no actual work done or no actual services rendered, the invoices were raised and funds were diverted in the name of expenses," ED had submitted before the court previously.
The ED's previous remand application stated that from the cash flows of Omkar Realtors & Developers
Pvt Ltd for various years it was observed that there are huge inter-company transactions with group companies including the companies from which funds have been transferred to the accused (Joshi) and his companies.
“It is established that loans availed from Yes Bank have been diverted and accused (Joshi) has helped promoters of Omkar Group in such diversion for an amount of at least Rs.87 crore,” the ED stated.
Joshi was charged for offence of money-laundering under sections 3, punishable under section 4 of PMLA, 2002.
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