New Delhi: From the biggest fleet of Rolls Royce Phantoms in India to the luxury business jet Falcon 2000, the high-flying Wadhawans, arrested in the multi-crore PMC Bank scam, owned the most fabulous machines the world of hijinks has ever seen.
Now the ongoing investigation into the scam hints that the huge real estate empire built by the Wadhwans also had a vital contribution of the disgraced chairman of Punjab and Maharshtra Co-operative (PMC) Bank, Waryam Singh.
On Friday, as the Enforcement Directorate(ED) gathered details of the bank fraud from the Mumbai Police, Rakesh Wadhawan and his son Sarang (Sunny) Wadhawan, promoters of Housing Development and Infrastructure Limited (HDIL), were questioned on a couple of ‘shady’ companies, including Privilege Airways Pvt Ltd which owns the DA 2000 Falcon jet manufactured by French company Dassault, and Broadcast Initiative Pvt Limited which was virtually run by Waryam Singh, the controversial head of PMC Bank who obliged Wadhawans in the Rs 4,355 crore loan fraud.
Records reveal that Privilege Airways was formed by Rakesh Wadhawan on February 16, 2006, ostensibly to oblige politicians and celebrities.
Waryam Singh, a conduit between politicians and Rakesh Wadhawan, was a frequent flier on the same Falcon 2000. Waryam Singh, a Director in Privilege Power and Infrastructure Limited, owned by Rakesh Wadhawan, had facilitated a dialogue between several state governments and HDIL to set up multi-crore power projects out of Maharashtra.
Sources said that after establishing Privilege Airways and Power Infrastructure, the Wadhawans eyed the setting up of a satellite news channel with an objective to make a strong footprint in the corridors of power in Delhi.
A senior IPS officer of Uttar Pradesh cadre and Waryam Singh played a key role in achieving this objective for HDIL.
According to a former editor of a news channel owned by the Wadhawans, “It was Waryam Singh who prompted Wadhawan to takeover Broadcast Intiatiaves Ltd CN, the company which owned a Hindi (national) news channel run by Bollywood producers Adhikari brothers. The sole aim of setting up the news channel was to liaison with the people in power.”
The former editor-level telly journalist said that Waryam Singh finally pressured a journalist working in the political bureau of Live India to fix his appointments with Central ministers.
Records of the Ministry of Corporate Affairs reveal that Waryam Singh was appointed as the Director of Broadcast Initiatives Limited on September 27, 2010, which ran the Live India Channel from Mandir Marg, New Delhi.
Earlier, Mi-Marathi, a regional news channel, was re-launched from Mumbai for which a separate company Mi-Marathi Media Limited was established. The Wadhwans brought in Waryam Singh as the Director in this company on May 13, 2010.
Waryam Singh, who was close to two Union Cabinet Ministers in the UPA-2 government, wielded enormous media power to enhance HDIL’s business prospects.
However, the channel could not secure TRP ratings despite hiring some of the top news anchors. Later, a multi-crore distribution scam surfaced in the company and after an internal financial audit, Rakesh Wadhwan decided to sell the news channel to a chit fund operator from Maharashtra.
Documents in possession of IANS show that Waryam Singh also held 1.9 per cent stake in HDIL till September, 2017. Waryam Singh, who joined the HDIL board as Director in 2005, finally resigned from Wadhawan’s company to join as Chairman in 2015.
No wonder the Reserve Bank of India, probing the link between HDIL and PMC Bank, had earlier written to the Central Registrar of Cooperative Societies, a department which comes under the Union Ministry of Agriculture, to take action in this connection against Waryam Singh.
IANS tried to contact the concerned Joint Secretary of Agriculture Ministry looking after the cooperative societies, but no response could be obtained from the official relating to the action taken by the Ministry against Waryam Singh.