The Enforcement Directorate’s onslaught against black money remains sturdy as it continues to pursue illegal assets of economic offenders under the PMLA and FEMA Acts. On Saturday, the ED has attached assets worth Rs. 10.28 Crore of Emaar MGF Managing Director Shravan Gupta and Rs. 20.87 Crore worth of assets of Dabur India Director Pradip Burman, for holding foreign assets abroad.
Burman has been found to have had deposited $3,212,000 in the Hong Kong and Shanghai Banking Corporation (HSBC) account of the Zurich Branch in Switzerland, leading to being booked under the FEMA for failing to produce evidence that the amount was ever remitted to India.
The agency also revealed that Shravan Gupta of the Emaar MGF had parked $1,540,650 in HSBC, Switzerland in contravention of the Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA) as the amount has not entered India. Shravan Gupta is a relative of Kanishka Singh, who is in turn a close aide of Congress President Rahul Gandhi.
Emaar MGF is an infrastructure developer that caught eyeballs for its shoddy work at building the Commonwealth Games Village in Delhi. In a report in 2010, Delhi Development Authority (DDA) said EMAAR-MGF did not meet several project milestones and failed to make payments to government agencies. The report also said there were many defects in the construction and these weren’t rectified by the builder. During the Commonwealth Games held in Delhi in 2010, visitors from different countries complained profusely about the filthy conditions in the Village. The Delhi Development Authority (DDA) confiscated the bank guarantee of Rs 183 crore given by Commonwealth Games Village builder EMAAR-MGF. A CAG report had flagged a bailout package of Rs 766 crore by Delhi Development Authority (DDA) to Emaar MGF in the construction of nearly 1200 flats in Commonwealth Games Village.
In 2013, The Enforcement Directorate (ED) had slapped a Rs. 8,600-crore penalty notice against the real estate group for violation of FEMA rules. ED had found that funds to the tune of about Rs 8,600 crore were received by this company and its four subsidiaries from Dubai, Cyprus, Mauritius and other foreign countries under the foreign direct investment (FDI) scheme of the RBI since April 2005. These funds were in violation of the FDI scheme, which had allowed their use only for construction development projects, but were actually used to purchase agricultural land across the country.
BJP MP Kirit Somaiya, in 2016, had urged the CBI and ED to investigate Kanishka Singh, close relative of Shravan Gupta and a close aide of the then Congress Vice president and now Congress President Rahul Gandhi, for his proximity to the MGF group. Somaiya had also alleged that Congress president Rahul Gandhi had conducted a suspicious commercial transaction with Emaar MGF. The company had admitted that two shops were bought by Rahul Gandhi from the company but it claimed that the sale was at market rates and rejected allegations that they were leased or bought back by the company.
Interestingly, Guido Ralph Haschke, one of the middlemem in the Rs 3,600-crore Agusta Westland VVIP chopper scam, had been on the board of directors in Emaar MGF Land Ltd. Haschke had also been arrested for his involvement in the CWG scam. “It cannot be a coincidence that Guido Haschke, an alleged middleman in the chopper deal, is common in both the scams and that he is linked with Christian Michel, an accused in the VVIP chopper scam,” Somaiya had said in 2016.
The ED has also been pursuing Rahul Gandhi’s brother-in-law Robert Vadra for a series of questionable land deals in Haryana and in Bikaner made by his company, Sky Light Hospitality Private Limited, which might have him booked under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act. The agency recently conducted raids on its premises. ED has also attached property worth 1.16 Crore of Karti Chidambaram in connection with the Aircel Maxis case.
The ED has sped up its operations and has been projecting a phenomenal performance under the FEMA and PMLA, in the 4.5 years of the Modi government, which has been bold on its stance against money launderers and other economic offenders. In this pursuit a number of Congress Party connections are also unraveling, while the party cries hoarse and resorts to threatening ED officials.