ED summons Praful Patel on Friday over alleged property deal with Mirchi

The Enforcement Directorate wants to question Praful Patel in connection with a property confirmation deed involving Millennium Developers.

Praful Patel (File Pic)
MUMBAI: The Enforcement Directorate (ED) has summoned Nationalist Congress Party leader Praful Patel on Friday in an alleged case of money laundering as part of its broader probe into allegations of terror financing against deceased drug lord Iqbal Memon, alias Iqbal Mirchi.

The agency wants to question Patel in connection with a property confirmation deed involving Millennium Developers, which is owned by the Opposition leader. According to ED’s documents that were seen and reviewed by ET, on February 21, 2007, Millennium Developers signed a deed with ‘tenants’ Hajra Memon, Iqbal’s widow, and their children Asif and Junaid, for a unit at Ceejay House in Mumbai.

The land now housing Ceejay House, like a few others, was allegedly ‘taken over’ by Mirchi and the property developed by Patel’s company, Millennium Developers. The agency also said that the land was part of properties that were alleged “proceeds of (Mirchi’s) crime.”

The 2007 confirmation deed produced by ED bears the signature of Praful Patel, identifying him as ‘co-owner’ of the property.

“Ceejay House, developed by Patel’s firm, is one of the properties that Iqbal took control over from a trust. Patel, being the promoter of the firm, his questioning is important to ascertain the nature of the deal entered into between Millennium and the previous developer,” a person aware of the line of probe by the agency told ET. “Why was a duplex given to family members of a person who is a close aide of Dawood Ibrahim, and used to manage his drug syndicate?” Patel refuted the allegations during his interaction with the media in Mumbai.

“My firm bought the property on which Ceejay House has been constructed from the Maharaja of Gwalior in 1963. The property was with the court receiver from 1978 until 2005 due to disputes among co-owners,” Patel said in his response to the ED’s allegations. “During this period, there were illegal occupants in the premises behind the then building. They were relocated by an order of the high court on the third floor when the building was redeveloped. All documents and court orders are available on record.” Separately, the ED told a Mumbai court Tuesday that the role of a non-banking finance company (NBFC) is also under the scanner. The agency did not name the NBFC.

The ED said that Rs 2,186 crore is the amount routed through the ‘terror financing’ mechanism, and the money was received as loans from the NBFC by a developer Sunblink Real Estate Pvt. Sunblink also benefited from Mirchi’s alleged ‘proceeds of crime’, the agency said. Sunblink Real Estate developed three buildings in Mumbai –– Rabia Mansion, Marium Lodge and Sea View –– that were ‘taken over’ by Mirchi from the Sir Mohammad Yusuf Trust.

Sunny Bhathija, a Sunblink director whose statement the ED has recorded to establish its case against Mirchi, is also a director in Contemporary Retail Private Limited. According to government records, the firm’s registered address is Capri Building, Bandra. This building was developed by HDIL under the Slum Rehabilitation Authority (SRA) scheme. Six of the ten borrowers mentioned in the Mumbai Police’s FIR in the Punjab & Maharashtra Cooperative (PMC) Bank case, including arrested HDIL promoters Rakesh and Sarang Wadhawan, also listed Capri Building as their business address.

Meanwhile Mirchi’s two sons Junaid and Asif were summoned by the agency but have ‘failed to appear' before ED citing various legal grounds. The agency wants to question them in connection with a confirmation deed signed with Millennium Developers and the deal entered between Sunblink and Mirchi. “These two attended the meetings and negotiations with Sunblink and the previous developer Joy Home Creations Pvt ltd ,” the ED told the court on Tuesday.

Counsel for ED, Hiten Venegaonkar while seeking the custody of Bindra argued that the agency has recorded statements of key witnesses who have revealed that over Rs.2,000 crores was allegedly paid to Iqbal Mirchi in a deal brokered by Bindra and the said monies were diverted for ‘terror funding’’. “ Bindra custody is therefore needed to probe the serious angle of terror financing,” Venegaonkar contested. The court has extended Bindra’s custody by five days

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