DHFL promoter arrested by ED in money-laundering case of Iqbal Mirchi
Pratik Salunke and Charul Shah
The Enforcement Directorate (ED) on Monday arrested Dewan Housing Finance Corporation (DHFL) promoter Kapil Wadhawan, 46, in connection with the probe against the late gangster, Iqbal Mirchi, under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA). DHFL allegedly extended loans to a Sunblink Real Estate Pvt Ltd, which purportedly routed money to Mirchi, who died in the United Kingdom in August 2013.
The ED accused Wadhawan of playing a “very crucial role” in “nefarious transactions by way of money laundering”. The DHFL came under the ED’s scanner when the agency was examining three properties linked to Mirchi, who was an aide of fugitive underworld don Dawood Ibrahim, in a prime Worli area. Earlier in the day, Wadhawan arrived at the ED’s office, where he had been summoned for questioning. He was arrested at 4pm and was produced before a special court, which remanded him in ED custody till Wednesday.
In its remand report submitted to the special PMLA court on Monday, the ED has accused DHFL of creating five shell companies, which eventually got amalgamated with Sunblink. According to the ED, “the conduit of M/s Sunblink was purposefully created by Kapil Wadhawan as CMD of DHFL and others just to obfuscate the trial of monies for purchase of properties from the Mirchis. M/s Sunblink is controlled by the Wadhawans.”
ED has alleged that Wadhawan has not been able to produce documents to establish bonafides in regards with the loans disbursed by DHFL. “He first diverted large funds from DHFL to shell companies. Later, these shell companies got amalgamated with M/s Sunblink Real Estate Pvt Limited to cover the alleged diversions of loans acquired from DHFL,” read the remand report of ED, while seeking Wadhawan’s custody before a special court.
According to the ED, ₹50 crore was disbursed by M/s DHFL to Sunblink Real Estate Pvt Ltd without taking into account the loan policy of DHFL. Thus, the declared policy was given a complete go-by, while disbursing the said loan. At the time of sanctioning the loan, there were no assets in the name of Sunblink, other than land/dilapidated building purchased from Mirchi.
“During the recording of statement of Chandresh Jhunjhunwala, one of the brokers in the Worli land deal, he has stated that Wadhawan also visited London with him to meet Mirchi, however, did not participate in the meeting,” read the remand report. “Further, it is seen that DHFL had given loans to five companies – Faith Realtors (approximately ₹685 crore), Marvel Township (approximately ₹510 crore), Able Realty (approximately ₹215 crore), Poseidon Realty (approximately ₹392 crore) and Random Realtors (approximately ₹352 crore), amounting to around ₹2,154 crore in 2010-11. These loans were outstanding in the books of DHFL until July 2019, which had a total outstanding amount of ₹2,186 crore,” the report read.
ED has alleged that there is no document available with the office of DHFL with regard to the loans given to the above said five companies and that the loans were given bypassing the standards prescribed in the loan policy of DHFL. “These five companies appear to be shell companies as deposed by the respective directors of these companies. These persons also deposed that beneficial owner of these companies are Kapil Wadhawan and Dheeraj Wadhawan.”
Dheeraj Wadhawan, the former non-executive director of DHFL, is also mentioned as an accused.
“Thus, it is apparent that these five companies were dummy entities without any asset created with the sole purpose of siphoning off public money as no business seems to have been conducted in those companies. These companies were, in effect, controlled by the Wadhawans. Kapil Wadhawan, being CMD of DHFL, has been instrumental in siphoning off a large amount of money during the same time period as that of the illegal deal between Mirchis and Wadhawans,” ED alleged.
ED stated that during the same period in 2010-11, the three properties in Worli under question were purchased in the name of Sunblink by Dheeraj Wadhawan from Mirchi. “Dheeraj and Kapil, in connivance with Sunny Bhathija, purchased shares of these five companies and accordingly, these companies got amalgamated with Sunblink.” the report states.
The defence lawyers for Kapil Wadhawan objected to the demand of ED for custodial interrogation. Designated senior counsel Prashant Dhakephalkar and Pranav Badheka argued that Kapil had nothing to do with the transaction of Sunblink with Mirchi.
Dheeraj Wadhawan and other accused who have been named in the charge sheet, but were not arrested, appeared before the court on Monday. However, family members of Mirchi– his two sons and wife believed to be abroad — failed to appear before the court. The court on Monday accepted the appearance and granted them bail, which also include Dheeraj Wadhawan.