The Enforcement Directorate (ED) on Friday searched the offices of Viva Group run by the family of Vasai MLA and leader of Bahujan Vikas Aghadi, Hitendra Thakur, and two consultants to the group in connection with its probe into the alleged Rs 6,200 crore fraud perpetrated by Housing Development Infrastructure Limited (HDIL) at Punjab and Maharashtra Co-operative (PMC) Bank.
Thakur is a six-time MLA from Vasai and his party has a strong presence in the semi-urban centres of Virar, Vasai and Nalasopara in Palghar district. It currently has three MLAs in the Maharashtra Legislative
Assembly, including Thakur’s son Kshitij – a two-time MLA. The party has extended its support to the ruling Maha Vikas Aghadi government. Sources said searches were conducted at five locations in Virar as well as Andheri, Juhu and Chembur in Mumbai, after the agency allegedly found transfers of about Rs 250 crore from HDIL to a clutch of companies associated with Viva Group. These transfers, the ED has alleged, were done to siphon money from HDIL.
According to sources, HDIL had an agreement with the Viva Group for procurement of land since 2008-09. HDIL agreed to pay commission for land procurement and also gave 30 per cent sale rights to Viva Group.
The ED, in a statement, said that HDIL promoters Rakesh Wadhawan and Sarang Wadhawan, “in connivance with Viva Group, have diverted more than Rs 160 crore from HDIL to many companies/entities belonging to Viva Group in the garb of commission”.
“Source of these funds from HDIL to Viva Group is apparently the illegal fund diversion from PMC Bank,” the agency added.
The ED is also probing the alleged diversion of a Rs 200-crore loan – taken from Yes Bank – by the promoters of HDIL to an associate company Mack Star Marketing Private Limited. According to the agency, its investigation into Mack Star has found that the Wadhawans “illegally and fraudulently transferred two commercial properties of Mack Star in Mumbai, valued at Rs 34.36 crore, to Viva Holding a company of Viva Group” without any monetary consideration.
“…Viva Holding never made payments for the purchase of the said property to Mack Star. Wadhawans had illegally transferred these properties to Viva Group in violation to the article of association of Mackstar. Further, Viva Holding never showed these properties in its balance sheets,” said ED.
Earlier this month, the ED had summoned Mehul Thakur, Director of Viva Group, and a chartered accountant for questioning. However, sources said that the two did not cooperate and refused to submit documents pertaining to the case. Viva Group has claimed that HDIL owes Rs 750 crore to it.
When contacted, Hitendra Thakur said, “I am not sure what the ED is looking for. However, all our transactions are through cheque and we will give our justification to the agency.”
PMC Bank is under regulatory restrictions after the RBI found financial irregularities in regard to the loans given to HDIL.