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Manesar land case: ED attaches assets worth over Rs 420 mn of realty firm

Several farmers and land owners are alleged to have been cheated to the tune of about Rs 15 billion in the case, in which former Haryana chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda is one of the accused

Press Trust of India  |  New Delhi 

Enforcement Directorate
The office of Enforcement Directorate (ED). Photo: Suryakant Niwate

The Enforcement Directorate Friday said it has attached assets worth over Rs 420 million of an NCR-based real estate firm in connection with a money laundering case wherein land was acquired in "illegally" with alleged connivance of senior government functionaries and bureaucrats.

Several farmers and land owners are alleged to have been cheated to the tune of about Rs 15 billion in the case, in which former chief minister is one of the accused.

The central agency said immovable properties of ABW Infrastructure Limited (ABWIL), and its group companies were provisionally attached as part of the latest order under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA).

The company could not be reached for comments.

"It was alleged that farmers and land owners of villages in Manesar, Naurangpur and Lakhnaula (also known as Nakhrola) had ancestral land of about 688 acres. They were compelled to sell approximately 400 acres out of the said land to private persons at throwaway prices under the threat of acquisition by the government between August 27, 2004 and August 24, 2007," the Enforcement Directorate (ED) said.

The agency had filed a PMLA case in the alleged land scam deal in September, 2016 on the basis of a CBI FIR.

The ED had also carried out raids in this case last year.

It added that an investigation under the PMLA revealed that the real estate firm and its group companies "illegally acquired land from farmers at throwaway prices and ABW group also procured the land from other land-owning companies and further obtained licences for residential/commercial/group housing in a fraudulent manner in connivance with officials and bureaucrats of different departments of government."

The company ABW, the ED said, "sold some of the licences at exorbitant prices and earned undue profits, generating thereby proceeds of crime to the tune of Rs 1,692,515,648 (1.69 billion)".

The CBI FIR had alleged that initially the Haryana government issued a notification under the Act (section 4) for acquiring land measuring about 912 acres for setting up an industrial model township.

After this, all the plots had allegedly been grabbed from the land owners by private builders at meagre rates.

It was also alleged that an order was then passed by the the competent authority, which is the Director of Industries, on August 24, 2007 releasing this land from the acquisition process in violation of the government policy, in favour of the builders, their companies and agents, instead of the original land owners.

The CBI has alleged in its FIR that in this manner, land measuring about 400 acres, the market value of which at that time was above Rs 40 million per acre, was allegedly purchased by the private builders and others from the innocent land owners for only about Rs 1 billion.

First Published: Fri, December 28 2018. 17:15 IST