New Delhi [India], June 24 (ANI): The Enforcement Directorate (ED) on Friday attached Rs 78.38 crore assets of Maharashtra-based Jalna Sahakari Sakhar Karkhana Ltd in connection with a money-laundering probe relating to the illegal sale of Cooperative Sugar Mills (Sahakari Sakhar Karkhana) in Maharashtra State Co-operative Bank (MSCB) case.
According to a statement by the agency, the attached property includes residual plant and machinery at the site, building structures and more than 200 acres of land of Jalna Sahakari Sakhar Karkhana (SSK) Ltd at Sawargaon Hadap village in Maharashtra's Jalna district.
The assets of Jalna SSK are currently held in the name of Arjun Sugar Industries Pvt Ltd. ED has initiated an investigation under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act, 2002 (PMLA) based upon a First Information Report (FIR) dated August 26, 2019, registered by the Economic Offence Wing of Mumbai Police. The FIR was registered in pursuance of the order dated August 22, 2019, of Bombay High Court, according to the statement.
It has been alleged in the FIR that the cooperative SSKs were fraudulently sold by the then officials and Directors of MSCB at throw-away prices to their relatives and private persons without following the due procedure prescribed under the SARFAESI Act.
Investigations conducted under PMLA revealed that Jalna SSK Limited was established in the year 1984-85 on around 235 acres of land including 100 acres of land received without any monetary consideration from Govt of Maharashtra. The Jalna SSK failed to repay the loan availed from MSCB and was declared as NPA on March 31, 2002. There was a loan outstanding of Rs 33.49 crore of MSCB on Jalna SSK as on September 30, 2008, said the statement.
To recover its dues, MSCB took possession of SSK on February 16, 2009, under SARFAESI Act. Thereafter, MSCB conducted an auction of Jalna SSK on February 27, 2012, with a reserve price of Rs 42.18 crore.
Only two parties-- Tapadia Constructions Pvt. Ltd and Ajeet Seeds Pvt. Ltd ( both in Aurangabad)-- participated in the auction. Tapadia Constructions Pvt Ltd was the highest bidder who bidded for Rs 42.31 crore whereas another bidder Ajeet Seeds Pvt Ltd bidded below the reserve price, added the statement.
The investigation also revealed that the buyers of bid documents and final participants in the auction were linked to each other and Tapadia Constructions Pvt Ltd and Ajeet Seeds Pvt Ltd are operating from the same building in Jalna.
After receipt of the final instalment of the sale amount by MSCB, a sale certificate was also issued to Tapadia Construction Pvt Ltd on the same day December 3, 2012.
Tapadia Constructions Pvt Ltd did not operate the SSK and after the lapse of 15 months, the SSK along with 235 acres of land located in Jalna was said to be sold to Arjun Sugar Industries Pvt Ltd. Arjun Sugar Industries Pvt Ltd is a Company incorporated by Arjunrao Panditrao Khotkar and others only with a view to purchasing the Jalna SSK Ltd on May 8, 2012.
Investigation under PMLA also revealed that Arjun Khotkar was on the Board of Director of Maharashtra State Co-op Bank Ltd during the period from 1998-2004. He was the director in Jalna SSK during the period from 1997 to 2003. Further, he is an elected chairman of APMC, Jalna from 2007 to till now. He has been a director in DCCB, Jalna for the period from 1997-2004 and from 2017 till now.
PMLA investigation further revealed that around Rs 10.56 crore paid by Tapadia Construction Pvt Ltd to MSCB as an initial deposit in lieu of Jalna SSK was an adjustment entity introduced by conversion of cash through shell companies. Further, Rs 31.73 crore was sourced from Arjun Sugar Industries Pvt Ltd on December 3, 2012. Thus Tapadia Constructions Pvt Ltd was only a proxy entity which has purchased Jalna SSK Ltd from MSCB as a proxy for others, according to the statement.
The investigation further revealed that Jalna SSK was sold for an amount of Rs 42.31 crore by suppressing the value, whereas the valuation of the assets conducted by an independent valuer appointed by ED revealed that the value of M/s Jalna SSK was around Rs 78 crore at the material time.
The government-approved valuer has submitted his valuation report dated January 20 this year to ED evaluating the immovable assets for Rs 48.38 crore and movable assets was Rs 30 crore of Jalna SSK in the year 2012.
PMLA investigation also revealed that the valuable and crucial equipment of the SSK such as the boiler was sold by showing as scrap by Arjun Sugar Industries Pvt Ltd.
It is pertinent to mention that the District Collector's office to stop the unauthorized sale of the government land to a private entity initiated action and Sub-Divisional Officer, Jalna declared the registry of government land to Tapadia Construction Pvt Ltd as null and void vide order dated April 12, 2018.
ED investigation revealed the fraudulent mode and manner in which the bidding process was followed for the sale of SSK and subsequent distribution of assets of SSK among family-based business entity of member of MSCB indicates the sale of SSK and accordingly the properties of said SSK which includes government land of 100 acres, plant and machinery, Building and Structure which was acquired illegally (now owned by Arjun Sugar Industries Pvt Ltd) are being proceeds of crime are provisionally attached under PMLA.
As per the ED, SSK has remained closed since that time. (ANI)