After unearthing details of the dubious land deals between former union minister Praful Patel and D-company aide late Iqbal Mirchi, the Enforcement Directorate (ED) officials are now pursuing their money trail to ascertain whether offshore accounts were used to launder money and purchase Ceejay House building in Mumbai's upmarket Worli area.
The ED documents reveal that Millennium Developers, a company promoted by Praful Patel and his wife Varsha, constructed a 15-storey building on a plot allegedly owned by Iqbal Mirchi, an aide of India's most wanted fugitive Dawood Ibrahim, who runs an international crime syndicate having deep roots in Mumbai and Dubai.
Though the former Civil Aviation minister denies any links with any underworld gang in the controversial land deal, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is raking it up ahead of the Assembly elections in Maharashtra.
Initial investigations by the ED indicate that the proceeds of the land deal were laundered by Mirchi's aide Haroun Yusuf to buy a five-star hotel in Dubai.
Yusuf, chairman of a dubious charity Trust, which owned Mirchi's several properties in prime Mumbai locations, was arrested along with a real estate agent Ranjit Singh Bindra by the ED on charges of facilitating the land deals and transferring huge funds through hawala to Dubai.
During interrogation, Yusuf has provided the ED vital leads on the money trail connecting the 2006-07 Ceejay House deal in Mumbai with the purchase of the five-star hotel in Dubai.
The Dubai connection, if corroborated by the ED, can spell more trouble for Patel, who already seems to be in the eye of the storm after the mainstream media, particularly a few leading English news channels, highlighted the Ceejay House deal.
The ED, which is probing a money laundering case, has already found an alleged agreement between Mirchi's wife and Millennium Developers for the development of a property in Mumbai. In the sale deed, a copy of which is with IANS, Patel has signed as co-owner of the property.
According to the ED sources, the probe agency is trying to find out how Patel signed the deal while being a union minister with family members of Mirchi in 2007 when the drug lord was wanted under the MCOCA (Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act) charges.
(With inputs from IANS)
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