Former aviation minister and Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader Praful Patel has come under the Enforcement Directorate (ED) scanner over a property agreement of 2007 involving Patel, late Iqbal Mirchi and a real estate firm Millennium Developer. The property is at a prime location in Worli and popularly known as Ceejay House.
Memon Iqbal Mohammed alias Iqbal Mirchi was wanted by the police in a dozen cases of murder, attempt to murder, criminal intimidation, extortion and drug trafficking in Mumbai.
Confirming the development, an ED official said that the 15-storey commercial building was a joint venture between Mirchi and Millennium Developer in 2006-07. Of which third and fourth floor of Ceejay House admeasuring 14,000 square feet has been transferred to Mirchi family by the developer in year 2007 towards beneficial interest of Mirchi in the land. The promoters of Millennium are Patel and his wife. Patel was the then Minister of Civil Aviation.
The probe agency learnt to be in possession with the deed of the property where Patel is the “co-owner”. Sources said that Patel will be questioned soon in the matter.
Text messages and calls to Praful Patel remained unanswered.
According to the ED probe, the Ceejay house have been sold to Sunblink Realtors in 2010-11. Sunblink entered into a deal to develop a disputed property in 2010 linked with Mirchi, his close confidant and Power of Attorney holder Humayun Merchant and Joy Homes.
Besides, the Ceejay House deal, the ED during the investigation has identified 6-7 other posh properties, valued worth Rs 500 crore. This including—Samander Mahal- A at Worli in possession of brother-in-law and sister of Mirchi; Sahil Bungalow owned by wife and son of Mirchi; Six acres land with bungalow in Khandala in the name of Whitewater which is in possession of both the sons of Mirchi. Another properties are-- New Roshan Talkies, Byculla, three shops in Crawford Market, Menaz Hotel at Juhu Road and a Bungalow in Panchgani.
"Properties of Woril and Ceejay House have been sold to Sunblink Realtors and Millennium through dubious means of sale proceeds have been laundered", said official cited above.
He further said that a part of proceeds of sale of these properties have been routed through fake bank accounts in Chennai. The above properties in Mumbai could not be attached under Smugglers and Foreign Exchange Manipulators (Forfeiture of Property) Act (SAFEMA) at relevant point as these assets were held in benami names using dubious transactions as detected during the probe.
Mirchi was an international drug dealer, smuggler and was involved in criminal activities detrimental to the national interest. Mirchi who died in 2013, had generated huge wealth in India and abroad. In 1995, he along with his family fled away from India and initially shifted his base to Dubai. After he was declared proclaimed offender, his various attached was seized under Safema which was later released.
ED has registered a cases last week under anti-money laundering act and arrested two associates who learnt to have worked closely with Mirchi. Both Haroon Yusuf and Ranjit Singh Bindra who were running the syndicates is in ED custody and was allegedly engaged in active conspiracy with Micrhi and facilitated the illegal sale of the properties.
Besides, the probe revealed that Mirchi’s family owns 25 properties in the UK which are created through the criminal activities in India.
ED has come across a person Hazra Menon, who is the owner of 16 properties in London through two companies namely Country Properties Limited, Jersey and Quay Management Limited, British Virgin Island where six properties are being held by four UK-based companies namely Riqz Ltd, Topline Estates Ltd, Quay Management Waterside Ltd, Imperial Hotel Limited in London. Three other properties are held in London in the name of Mihaj Investment Corporation Ltd. The probe agency suspect that these properties have been purchased from money received illegally from sale of Indian properties.
Further, ED probe said that Mid West Hotel apartment in the UAE was purchased in the name of Abdul Salem after selling three Indian properties -- Rabia Mansion, Marium Lodge and Sea View -- in 2010. The current value of these assets is to the tune of Rs 180 crore.