Former Civil Aviation Minister and Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) senior leader Praful Patel has been summoned by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) on Tuesday in connection with its money laundering probe linked to alleged illegal assets of late Iqbal Mirchi, an aide of underworld don Dawood Ibrahim.
Mirchi was alleged to be the right-hand man of Dawood in drug trafficking and extortion crimes.
Patel, a former Union Minister in the UPA regime and an NCP heavy-weight, has been asked to depose in Mumbai on October 18.
According to ED officials, Patel’s Millennium Developers Pvt Ltd constructed a 15-storey building called Ceejay House in 2006-07 and its third and fourth floors were transferred to Mirchi’s wife.
The document which gave Hajra the floors is signed by Praful Patel as ‘co-owner’ according to a Times Now report. The land on which the building tower was made is said to be owned by Mirchi.
Investigators have claimed that the land was purchased from the proceeds of crime of money laundering, drug trafficking, and alleged extortion crimes.
Last Friday, the ED had arrested two people in connection with its money laundering probe against late Mirchi, who died in London in 2013.
The accused arrested in Mumbai have been identified as Haroun Aleem Yusuf and Ranjit Singh Bindra, who were running the syndicate. Bindra worked as a broker in deals while Yusuf transferred money to a trust for Iqbal Mirchi Memon, aka Iqbal Mohammed.
Iqbal was wanted by the police in a dozen cases of murder, attempt to murder, criminal intimidation, extortion and drug trafficking in Mumbai. He was arrested in 2012 on charges of threatening to kill his nephew Kadir Nadeem. However, the charges were dropped due to insufficient evidence, and India could not initiate extradition proceedings against him.
The ED has initiated investigations into Mirchi’s dealings in India and abroad, including the UK, Cyprus, Spain, the UAE, Morocco, and Turkey.
Rubbishing as “mere speculation” the reports about his alleged deal with Mirchi, Patel said there is not even a single paisa worth property transaction between the Patel family and Hajra Memon.
Patel is not a novice when it comes to doing the rounds of the ED office. He was previously summoned for his part in a money-laundering probe related to alleged losses suffered by national carrier Air India in the multi-crore aviation scam during the UPA-era.
The developments of this case show how deep and shady Praful Patel’s political and business affiliations are. It is a matter of grave concern that the person who had a red corner notice of Interpol against his name was dealing with a powerful leader of India.
It looks like ED has just unearthed the first few layers and things are more sinister. It would not be a surprise if few other big politician names spring up during ED’s investigation.
Last month, India declared Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) chief Hafiz Saeed, Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) chief Masood Azhar, LeT’s supreme commander of operations in Kashmir Zaki-ur-Rehman and Lakhvi and fugitive underworld don Dawood Ibrahim as terrorists under the amended Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act. Therefore, this crackdown is seen as a continuation of the efforts of the government and the authorities to close down on the terrorists and their unethical business dealings, of which Praful Patel seems to be a part of in the Late Iqbal Mirchi case.