ED Summons Praful Patel In Alleged Land Deal With Dawood's Aide; NCP Leader Denies Claim
Enforcement Directorate (ED) on Tuesday summoned former Union Aviation Minister and Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader Praful Patel in connection with an alleged property deal with underworld don Dawood Ibrahim's close aide.
Patel came under ED's scanner over a property agreement of 2007, soon after it seized a cache of documents which reportedly establishes link between the NCP leader, late Iqbal Mirchi and a real estate firm Millennium Developer. The property is at a prime location in Worli and popularly known as Ceejay House.
"There are speculative views and documents which may have been leaked to media. Obviously, you are in possession of some papers which may have never been brought to my attention," Patel said during the press conference. "At this stage everything is with court receiver of the High Court of Mumbai. We are nowhere directly looking after the property and neither are we directly in charge of it, he added.
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.
According to the ED sources, Mirchi and his family members beneficially own several benami properties in Mumbai. Two of these properties located in Mumbai's Worli were sold to Sunblink Realtors Private Limited and Millennium Developers Private Limited.
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