The Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader and the former civil aviation minister Praful Patel has arrived at the Enforcement Directorate (ED) on Friday for questioning in a case connected with money laundering investigation related to the assets of the late Iqbal Mirchi, a close aide of underworld don Dawood Ibrahim.
According to ED officials, in the Mirchi probe, the former civil aviation minister is expected to be quizzed on the contours of a deal between a real estate company promoted by him and his wife and Mirchi’s wife.
According to ED officials, Patel’s Millennium Developers Pvt Ltd constructed a building called Ceejay House in Mumbai in 2006-07 and its third and fourth floors, measuring around 14,000 square feet, were transferred to Mirchi’s wife Hajra Iqbal Memon.
ED investigators said they were investigating possible links between Patel and the promoters of HDIL (Housing Development & Infrastructure Ltd), Rakesh Wadhawan and his son Sarang Wadhawan, arrested in connection with the fraud at PMC Bank. ED alleged that they have found some documents which show that Patel used a private jet owned by a company linked to the Wadhawans.
A passenger manifest list of Privilege Airways Pvt Ltd in ED’s possession states that Praful Patel used the private jet twice in March 2012. Another major allegation was Prful’s financial transaction or partnership between Mirchi’s wife Hajra Memon and his family, as claimed by the agency.
But later in a press conference, Praful Patel had categorically denied this allegation saying there was no financial transaction or partnership between Mirchi’s wife Hajra Memon and his family, as claimed by the agency. Patel also rejected that he has “no business connection or financial dealings with HDIL promoters or PMC Bank”.
The land on which the building stands , the agency believes, was owned by Mirchi and purchased from the proceeds of crime of money laundering, drug trafficking, and alleged extortion crimes.
ED is also investigating other assets and associates of Mirchi. An official in the anti-money laundering agency said the estimate of Mirchi’s properties could be around ₹400 to ₹500 crore. Mirchi’s family also owns several properties in the UK.