New Delhi: The Enforcement Directorate (ED) has launched a big crackdown on assets – movable and immovable, acquired by crime syndicates across the country. In a first step, the ED arrested two associates of late Iqbal Mirchi, who was a close accomplice of underworld fugitive Dawood Ibrahim, in a money laundering case for facilitating a land deal more than Rs 225 crore. The accused, who are from Mumbai, have been identified as Haroun Yusuf and Ranjeet Singh Bindra.
Bindra acted as a broker for the land deal while Yusuf transferred the money to a Trust and facilitated the deal. The agency found that Yusuf became a British national in 2004 and played a crucial role in illegal dealings and land deal between Mirchi and developers that were carried out by Bindra for brokerage of around Rs 30 crore.
The agency has found that Mirchi after selling properties in Mumbai purchased a five star hotel in Dubai. The agency has alleged that his son Junaid Iqbal Memon and his associates have managed to dispose of assets owned and controlled by Mirchi in India.
The agency had filed a criminal case of money laundering against Yusuf and Bindra on the basis of an FIR registered by Mumbai police against Mirchi and others. 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.
However, he was not an accused in the 1993 Mumbai serial bomb blasts.
An Interpol red corner notice was issued against Mirchi in 1994. After the blasts, he fled to Dubai and from there he shifted base to London, where he passed away in 2013.
These FIRs were analyzed by ED with regard to registration of an enforcement case information report (ECIR), equivalent to FIR, under various sections of Prevention of Money Laundering Act.
“During preliminary enquiry, it was found that Mirchi was involved in smuggling of narcotics and running extortion rackets. Apart from the said illegal acts, the Mirchi also collected huge amounts through smuggling of drugs and arms, extortion racket,” the agency said.
This, the huge amount of proceeds generated were laundered and layered and invested in many properties in various locations in Maharashtra and various parts of India and abroad by projecting it as untainted property.
During investigation, ED found that Mirchi purchased three properties belonging to Mohammad Yusuf Trust in September 1986 for Rs 6.5 lakh through his company Rockside Enterprise. These three properties – Sea View, Marium Lodge and Rabia Mansion – totaling 1573 square meter are located in Worli Area of Mumbai.
The said three properties were rented at the time of sale to Rockside Enterprise.
During searches carried out at the various premises related to the ownership and subsequent transaction of the three properties, ED recovered “crucial documents”. The agency said that the three properties were handed over to Mirchi by Mohammad Yusuf Trust in 1983. Haroun Yusuf was the chairman of the Trust.
Mirchi absconded from India and consequently proclamation against him was issued and his various properties were attached under Smugglers and Foreign Exchange Manipulators (Forfeiture of Property) Act (SAFEMA).
Though the ownership of his property could not transfer to Mirchi and the property directly and indirectly remained in the name of the Trust.
From the perusal of list of tenants from 1981 to 2010 and from various statements recorded, it was found that the initial tenants were replaced by Mirchi’s relatives and close associates by 2005.
“Almost all the tenants were Mirchi’s nominees and were planted by Humayun Merchant, a close friend of Mirchi in connivance with Yusuf.
In 2005, the confiscation under SEFEMA of these properties was quashed by Mumbai court on the ground that the said properties belong to Trust. Thereafter, Mirchi through his close confidant and Power of Attorney holder Humayun Merchant approached a developer Joy Home Creation Private Limited. Later Humayan also arranged a meeting with Jayant B Soni, Director of Joy Home Creation Private Limited with Mirchi in London.
During the meeting, various modalities of the project were discussed and an agreement was entered. Initially five tenancy rights were transferred in the name of nominee companies of developer Joy Homes. As per the agreements, Joy Homes was to pay Rs 11 crore to Humayun and Rs 4.5 crore to the Trust. Joy Homes paid Rs 25 lakh to the Trust.
As Joy Homes could not make payment of Rs 11 crore, Mirchi threatened the Director to exit the property.
Later, in 2010 Sunblink Real Estate Private Limited entered into in the project and deal was finalized for surrender of all the tenancy right for an amount of Rs 225 crore. As per the agreement, Joy Homes was to get Rs 50 crore, Trust Rs 4.5 crore and rest was to be paid to Humayun.
Sunblink paid the amount through laundering money and through hawala and acquired the tenancy rights.
ED said that a statement of a witness revels that a payment of Dirham 90 million was made through hawala channel in UAE in cash for purchase of a five star hotel in Dubai. The hotel was purchased by Mirchi.