The Enforcement Directorate (ED) is probing companies and political big guns suspected to have links with Rs 200-crore land deals involving the late Iqbal Mirchi, a close aide of underworld fugitive Dawood Ibrahim.
The agency on Friday arrested two associates of Mirchi for allegedly facilitating the property deals in an illegal manner.
The accused, arrested in Mumbai, have been identified as Haroon Yusuf and Ranjit Singh Bindra, who were running syndicates.
Bindra acted as a broker in the deals while Yusuf transferred money to a trust and acted as a facilitator.
Memon Iqbal Mohammed, alias Iqbal Mirchi, was involved in a dozen cases of murder, attempt to murder, criminal intimidation, extortion, and drug trafficking in Mumbai.
An Interpol red corner notice was issued against him in 1994. After the Mumbai blasts of 1993, he fled to Dubai and from there he shifted base to London, where he died in 2013.
In April 1995, Scotland Yard raided Mirchi’s house in the UK and arrested him on charges of drug trafficking and terrorism.
Mirchi was again arrested in 2012 for allegedly threatening to kill his nephew, Kadir Nadeem. However, the charges were dropped due to insufficient evidence, and again India could not initiate extradition proceedings against him.
Earlier, the ED had initiated investigation into Mirchi’s dealings in India and abroad, including the UK, Cyprus, Spain, the UAE, Morocco, and Turkey.
In the past 10 days, the ED has searched multiple locations in Mumbai and other places.
“The case was booked under anti-money laundering laws and probe is under way. We have come across crucial pieces of evidence indicating the involvement of Mumbai-based companies and even politicians,” said an ED official, refusing to give further detail.
“The accused also collected huge amounts through smuggling drugs and arms, extortion rackets, etc. The proceeds have been laundered, layered, and invested in properties in Maharashtra and other parts of India,” the official said.
Investigation shows there are assets Mirchi owned in his name and the names of relatives, and through companies he and his family controlled.
It has been found that Mirchi purchased three properties belonging to the Sir Mohammad Yusuf Trust for Rs 6.5 lakh through his company Rockside Enterprises.
These three are Sea View, Marium Lodge, and Rabia Mansion, measuring 1,537 square metres, in the Worli area of Mumbai.
Tenants occupied these premises. Later they left because the condition of these buildings was not good. Mirchi’s relatives and close associates replaced the earlier tenants.
The trust handed over the possession of the three properties to Mirchi in 1993.
Mirchi’s properties were attached under the Smugglers and Foreign Exchange Manipulators (Forfeiture of Property) Act. However, the attachment order was quashed by court in 2005 on the grounds that they belonged to the trust.
After the confiscation was quashed, Mirchi, through his confidant and Power of Attorney holder Humayun Merchant, approached Mumbai-based developer Joy Home Creation to develop the project in 2007.
“From the sequence of events, it is apparent that the real ownership of the property was with Mirchi and that the trust was a mere accomplice,” the official said.
However, as property prices appreciated and Joy Home Creation did not pay Rs 11 crore as promised, Iqbal told Jayant B Soni, owner of Joy Home Creations, to exit the property.
Later, in 2010, Sunblink Real Estate entered the scene and the deal on surrendering of tenancy rights in favour of Sunblink was finalised.