The Directorate of Enforcement (ED) carried out search operations at various locations across Rajasthan in connection to a money laundering case linked to alleged irregularities in the implementation of the Centre’s Jal Jeevan Mission scheme, officials said on September 4.
ED sleuths carried out searches in cities like Jaipur, Alwar, Neemrana, Behror, and Shahpura and seized unaccounted cash amounting to Rs 2.32 Crore, a 1 Kg gold bar worth Rs 64 lakh, and various incriminating documents, including digital evidence, hard disks, and mobile devices, officials said.
According to an official statement, the ED’s investigation was initiated based on an FIR registered by the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) in Rajasthan. The case involved individuals Padamchand Jain (Proprietor: M/s. Shree Shyam Tubewell Company), Mahesh Mittal (Proprietor M/s Shree Ganpati Tubewell Company), and others.
They were suspected of offering bribes to public servants to gain illegal protection, secure tenders, obtain bill approvals, and cover up irregularities related to work executed in various tenders issued by the Public Health and Engineering Department (PHED).
During the search operations, the ED seized unaccounted cash amounting to Rs 2.32 Crore, a 1 Kg gold bar worth Rs 64 lakh, and various incriminating documents, including digital evidence, hard disks, and mobile devices. These findings suggest extensive transactions carried out by the suspects in collusion with PHED officials.
The Directorate of Enforcement has taken a step in the case of alleged money laundering involving M/s GDS Builders Pvt. Ltd., its director Uma Sankar Patro, and others.
Properties amounting to approximately Rs 19.67 Crores have been provisionally attached under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act, 2002 (PMLA).
This includes movable assets such as bank balances and mutual fund balances totalling Rs 9,49,657, along with 57 immovable assets valued at Rs 19,57,73,370, located in Puri and Bhubaneswar.
The investigation was initiated by the ED based on three FIRs registered by the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB), Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), Bhubaneswar, under various sections of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and the Prevention of Corruption Act.
These cases were filed against Uma Shankar Patro, the Director of M/s GDS Builders Pvt. Ltd., three officers from the United Bank of India (UBI) Nayapalli Branch in Bhubaneswar, and private individual borrowers. Subsequently, chargesheets were filed by the CBI.
The ED’s investigation uncovered a conspiracy involving the accused bank officials of UBI, who collaborated with Uma Shankar Patro and the borrowers in obtaining housing loans in 2017.
It was revealed that Uma Shankar Patro, along with family members, misappropriated approximately Rs 18.79 Crore of public money.
Furthermore, Uma Sankar Patro, through his jewellery firm M/s. Dwarka Jewellers, committed fraud in the Cash Credit loan obtained from Indian Bank (formerly Allahabad Bank), Bhubaneswar, causing a significant financial loss of Rs 7.14 Crore to the bank. These funds were allegedly laundered by Uma Sankar Patro through the bank accounts of M/s. GDS Builders Pvt. Ltd.
Earlier, on May 18, 2023, the ED conducted searches at eight premises associated with Uma Shankar Patro and related individuals. During these operations, cash amounting to Rs 15 Lakhs, gold jewellery weighing 1.978 Kgs (valued at Rs 1.30 Crore), incriminating documents, and electronic devices were seized.
The investigation into this money laundering case is ongoing. ED has seized nine immovable properties located in Maharashtra and Karnataka, with a total estimated value of Rs 65.53 Crore, under the provisions of the Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA), 1999, according to a post on X by ED.
This action is part of an investigation related to illegal remittances made by M/s Venkateshwara Hatcheries Pvt Ltd (M/s VHPL) to its wholly owned subsidiary, M/s Venky’s Overseas Limited (M/s VOL), UK, since 2011.
The ED’s investigation revealed that M/s VHPL falsely declared the business of M/s VOL to the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) as Agriculture and Mining (rearing of ducks, hens, etc.).
However, despite more than 11 years since its incorporation, M/s VOL never initiated any such business activity. It was found that funds remitted by M/s VHPL to M/s VOL were primarily used for the purchase of an immovable property named “Alexander House” in the United Kingdom.
This property, spanning 90 acres, was acquired by M/s VOL with funds remitted by M/s VHPL.
The investigation established that M/s VHPL did not intend to conduct genuine business through its subsidiary, M/s VOL, and had created it as a front to acquire immovable property in the UK for the benefit of directors, employees, and family members of M/s VHPL.
Consequently, the equivalent value of properties held in India has been seized under Section 37A of FEMA. The investigation into this case is ongoing.
(with inputs from ANI)