22-room farmhouse, jet among HDIL assets seized in fresh raids
A 22-room sprawling seaside farmhouse in Alibag tehsil and a Dassault Falcon-200 business jet are among the assets belonging to Housing Development Infrastructure Limited (HDIL) and its promoters that have been seized by the Enforcement Directorate (ED).
The agency is investigating a possible money laundering angle in the Punjab and Maharashtra Co-operative (PMC) Bank fraud case, where the bank effectively served as a piggybank for the Wadhawans of HDIL. HDIL directors Rakesh Kumar Wadhawan and his son Sarang were arrested by the Mumbai police’s Economic Offences Wing on October 3.
The farmhouse, across two and half acres, is on the beachfront in the pristine village of Awas in Alibag tehsil, not far from the bungalow owned by fugitive businessman Mehul Choksi, which has already been attached by ED.
The agency began searching the Alibag premises on Saturday.
The bungalow is among 159 served notices by Raigad revenue authorities for alleged violations of the Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) norms, thus drawing similarities with fugitive diamantaire, Nirav Modi, whose bungalow along the coast was razed in March 2019 owing to CRZ violations.
An FIR has been registered for the structural violations at the Wadhawans farmhouse but the owners have obtained a status quo order from a local court. On Saturday, ED found two battery operated golf carts, three mountain bikes, a speedboat and three high-end cars at the farmhouse.
On Monday, the agency seized a Falcon-200 jet parked at the international airport. This is the second jet of the Wadhwans to be attached; on saturday, a Bombardier business jet was seized. The valuation of the seized properties of Wadhawans is yet to be ascertained, but it is estimated that it will run into several hundred crores. The fraud at PMC is estimated at Rs 4365 crore.
“Our probe will be focused on the money laundering aspect and on recovering of stolen assets. We have to establish the money trail and probe where it has been diverted,” an ED official said on condition of anonymity.
“We are identifying properties, especially movable assets, and are trying to secure the accounts. We have found deposits worth Rs 150 crore of Wadhawans,” the officer added. The ED is also scanning a few properties in London and Dubai to ascertain if they are linked with Wadhawans.
ED has also begun looking into the ownership of HDIL building in Bandra (east). “We will attach if it’s free of encumbrance,” said the officer.
The agency has, until now, attached 15 cars belonging to the Wadhawans, including a Mercedes Benz, Bentley and Rolls Royce. ED has found Rs 10 crore (Rs 8.5 crore in fixed deposits and cash worth Rs 1.50 crore) in former PMC Bank chairperson Waryam Singh’s account; he too was arrested by EOW.
ED questioned Sarang Wadhawan’s wife Anu and mother Malti on Saturday.