Thursday, May 19 2022

Enforcement Directorate (ED) officials late Wednesday evening arrested Amit Chandole, a relative and close business partner of Shiv Sena MLA Pratap Sarnaik, in a money laundering case involving TOPSGRUP, a security giant owned by Rahul Nanda. This is the first arrest in the case.

Although ED sources have confirmed Chandole’s arrest, the allegations against him are still unclear. He will be presented in court on Thursday so that the central agency can seek his custody for further investigation.

Sarnaik, whose promises were violated by the ED on Tuesday, is in the real estate and hospitality business. ED officials from Delhi and Mumbai also raided Chandole’s premises in Thane on the same day.

ED is also likely to interrogate Sarnaik’s son Vihang for the second time on Thursday. Other people related to Sarnaik’s activities will also soon be invited to join the investigation, ED sources said.

Read also | ED raids Shiv Sena MLA’s properties, interrogates son in money laundering investigation against security company

The ED interrogated Vihang for five hours on Tuesday. On Tuesday, Sarnaik had defined ED’s actions as a policy of revenge. “The day I filed a privileged motion against Kangana Ranaut and Arnab Goswami and called for the Anvay Naik case to be reopened, I knew what was going to happen. I am a Shiv Sainik and a fighter who has come this far. Uddhavsaheb appointed me spokesperson to present the party’s views. Today they told him [Vihang] your father talks a lot about Kangana Ranaut and Arnab Goswami. I will continue to speak wherever Mumbai, Maharashtra or its police are vilified. I haven’t done anything wrong in my business, “he said, speaking to a news channel.

The central agency suspects that the Sena MLA illegally pumped money into Nanda’s business ventures to transfer money overseas.

TOPSGRUP president and founder Rahul Nanda denied the allegations and said: “Pratap is an old friend and he has never invested a single penny in my business or company! He or Sena have nothing to do with Tops! This it’s absolutely absurd. “

Sources of ED said they suspect there is an illegitimate flow of funds between Sarnaik-related companies, his family members and Nanda companies, and they want to investigate possible money laundering.

Sources in the ED said their investigation is based on a registered complaint against TOPS Security, Rahul Nanda and family, at the police station on court instructions. The former CEO of the company Ramesh Ramkrishna Iyer had turned to the court accusing Nanda’s involvement in illegal activities, huge irregularities in the company, embezzlement of funds in the amount of 175 crore of rupees and scam of employees, shareholders, others. government and private organizations with false documents. The case was recently transferred to the Mumbai Police Economic Crime Wing for further investigation.

Iyer, who had been CEO of TOPSGRUP since 2006, said he discovered Nanda’s diversion and misappropriation of funds in 2009. Iyer claimed in the complaint (a copy of which is with HT) that in 2008 , Nanda bought 51% of London based shares of The Shield Guarding Company Limited, for approximately Rs130 crore. This amount would have been withdrawn by ICICI Ventures Limited and by private investors of Everstone Capital. Nanda would have inflated the total value of his net worth as funds that are worth four times the value of his net worth can be legally sent overseas. “The investment firms, despite knowing it, have invested in TOPSGRUP,” Iyer’s complaint said, adding that Nanda diverted funds from The Shield and bought property in London.

Iyer also claimed that Nanda took out loans against TOPSGRUP’s subsidiaries, including Tops Securities UK Limited and Topsgrup Holding BV in the Netherlands, and used the money to buy property in London, which violates statutory loan rules. Nanda did not show the income earned from these properties in her tax returns in India, Iyer said in her complaint.

Iyer also claimed that while providing MMRDA security services to the state government agency, Nanda deceived the department by not providing them with security personnel as stipulated in the contract, but by charging them the full amount. ED suspects Nanda had political help in grabbing the MMRDA contract.

Another allegation is that Nanda made a bogus balance sheet for the 2018-19 financial year to use overdrafts and cash lines of credit from Allahabad Bank (Prabhadevi branch) and Corporate Bank (Kalina branch). For this he would have changed the mayors, without the approval of the shareholders.

Iyer also said that in 2017, Nanda and her family transferred 66% of their shares in TOPSGRUP to a Nanda family trust based in Mauritius, in violation of the Private Securities Agencies Act (regulations).

Commenting on the ED’s action and the allegations made against him, Nanda said: “The ED had questioned us about our UK takeover in 2009 and we gave them proof that everything was 100% legally done. They also questioned me about our trust in Mauritius, to which we replied again and told them that this was legally created by lawyers and that there is no money in the Mauritius trust. This was all evil played by Ramesh (Iyer), Amar (both top executives of his companies) and the clique, who complained to the ED and sent them to hunt for a goose.

Iyer denied Nanda’s counter-allegations stating that her complaint was registered after due verification of the facts. Nanda also filed a police complaint against Iyer at the Khar Police Station a few months ago.


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