ED arrests two in PMC Bank fraud case

The Enforcement Directorate has arrested two people following raids on the premises of a firm promoted by a Maharashtra MLA for alleged “illegal diversion of bank funds” in the Rs 4,300-crore PMC Bank fraud and money laundering case, official sources said on Saturday.

On Friday, the agency searched five residential and business premises linked to the Viva Group, promoted by Bahujan Vikas Agadhi (BVA) party chief and MLA Hitendra Thakur, its associates and two of its financial consultants in the Vasai-Virar area of Maharashtra’s Palghar district and Andheri, Juhu and Chembur suburbs of Mumbai, the sources said.

Mehul Thakur, managing director of the Viva Group, and Gopal Chaturvedi, a chartered accountant, were arrested under sections of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) after the raids.

Action was taken against the two as they were allegedly not cooperating in the investigation. The ED will now seek their custody when they are produced before a local court in Mumbai on Saturday, the sources said.

₹73 lakh cash, incriminating digital and documentary evidences were recovered during the operation.

Mr. Thakur’s party had pledged the support of its three MLAs, including his legislator son Kshitij Thakur, to the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government led by Shiv Sena chief and Maharashtra chief minister Uddhav Thackeray. The NCP and the Congress are also part of the MVA.

The central agency has filed a criminal case of money laundering to probe the alleged loan fraud in Punjab and Maharashtra Co-operative (PMC) Bank in October 2019 against Housing Development Infrastructure Ltd (HDIL), its promoters Rakesh Kumar Wadhawan, his son Sarang Wadhawan, its former chairman Waryam Singh and ex-managing director Joy Thomas.

It took cognisance of a Mumbai Police economic offences wing FIR against them that charged them with causing “wrongful loss, prima facie to the tune of ₹4,355 crore to PMC Bank and corresponding gains to themselves”.

The raids were conducted to collect more evidence after it was found that the “Wadhawans in connivance with Viva Group have diverted more than Rs 160 crore from HDIL to many companies and entities belonging to Viva Group in the garb of commission”. “Source of these funds from HDIL to Viva Group is apparently the illegal fund diversion from PMC Bank,” the ED claimed in a statement issued on Friday.

The agency said in a statement that it is also probing another instance involving the searched firm where the Wadhawans allegedly siphoned ₹200 crore loan sanctioned by Yes Bank to a company called Mack Star Marketing Pvt Ltd. “This loan was siphoned by the Wadhawans by showing it for fictitious purpose,” it said.

Yes Bank, its promoters and executives are being probed by the ED as part of a separate money laundering case linked to sanction of illegal loans to various entities.

The ED had earlier questioned Varsha Raut, the wife of Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut, in the PMC case for alleged transfer of ₹55 lakh suspect funds as “interest free loan” into her account by Madhuri Raut, the wife of Pravin Raut, another accused in the case.

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