ED arrests Ambience Group chairman in money laundering case
Raj Singh Gehlot, chairman of Delhi-based realty firm Ambience Group, was arrested by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) in connection with a money laundering case associated with a bank fraud of ₹902 crore, officials familiar with the developments said. He was remanded to the central agency’s custody for seven days by a Delhi court on Thursday.
Gehlot, the owner of Ambience malls in the National Capital Region and the five-star Leela Ambience Convention hotel in east Delhi, has been accused of money laundering worth ₹469 crore. He was arrested under the provisions of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) by the central agency late on Wednesday, an ED official said on condition of anonymity.
There is clear evidence of diversion of the loan amount through a web of companies, the official added.
The central agency is probing the case against Ambience Group on the basis of a 2019 First Information Report registered by the Jammu Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) against M/s Aman Hospitality Pvt Ltd (AHPL), a group company, and its directors for purported money laundering in the construction and development of the five-star ‘Leela Ambience Convention Hotel’ situated at 1, CBD, Maharaj Surajmal Road, Near Yamuna Sports Complex, Delhi.
A loan of ₹810 crore was sanctioned to the company by a consortium of banks led by Jammu and Kashmir Bank for developing the hotel. The loan amount along with the interest totaling ₹902 crore has already been declared as non performing asset (NPA).
“The investigation conducted so far revealed that Raj Singh Gehlot entered into a criminal conspiracy to fraudulently divert the loan amount by diverting the funds for other purposes such as to settle the loan of other group companies and making fixed deposits as well as diversion of materials to other projects of the Ambience Group,” the officer cited above said.
The officer added that an amount of ₹469 crore was found to be diverted to entities and individuals who are controlled by Gehlot and for which he is an authorized signatory.
Last year, the anti-money laundering probe agency also raided seven premises, including the office of AHPL, other companies of the Ambience Group, and the residences of Gehlot, directors Dayanand Singh and Mohan Singh Gehlot and their associates in this regard.
Gehlot’s communication team was not available for comment.