Enforcement Directorate probes real estate deal of DHFL associate company

ED sources said the loan sanctioned to Sunblink was diverted to Memon for terrorist financing and creating like assets
The Enforcement Directorate (ED) is examining a real estate transaction worth Rs 121 crore between Essential Hospitality (EHPL), a Dewan Housing Finance (DHFL) associate group firm, and Charak Pharma, an entity controlled by Raj Shroff, son-in-law of Sushilkumar Shinde, former Maharashtra chief minister and ex-Union home minister. 

The agency learnt of this commercial deal in a search operation on the premises of Dheeraj Realty and DHFL last week. The search was in connection with a loan of Rs 2,186 crore to Sunblink Real Estate; the latter is under the probe agency’s lens for property dealing with the late Iqbal Memon, an underworld figure. 

EHPL is a wholly-owned subsidiary of RKW Developers, wherein DHFL's Dheeraj Wadhawan is promoter and whole-time director.

In May, said ED sources, Essential Hospitality sold a seven-storey commercial building to the promoters of Charak Phrama for Rs 121 crore and further registered the same property as Rs 7 crore. The property is on the western express highway, Sahar, Mumbai. The building has since been leased to Big Tree Entertainment (BookMyShow). 

“The enforcement agency is examining all the documents seized during the search operation at eight locations. We are scrutinising the deal structure and whether all checks and balances are in place,” said an ED source. 

Sources say it seized jewellery worth Rs 22 crore and a hard disc, besides some documents. An e-mail sent by this publication to DHFL was not answered. Raj Shroff did not respond to messages.

ED sources said the loan sanctioned to Sunblink was diverted to Memon for terrorist financing and creating like assets. On Saturday, Kapil Wadhawan, chairman of DHFL, was questioned by the ED, along with others, on the matter. Dheeraj Wadhawan is learnt to be in hospital and the ED is waiting for his recovery to record a statement. Its sources say he might give more information on the rationale for the loan to Sunblink and related matters. The agency is examining the loan agreement and the collateral provided by Sunblink. 

"The company would like to clarify that the officers of the ED visited one of the offices of the company and had raised certain queries to senior officials. The company has provided the necessary documents and clarifications as required by the department as part of their investigations, and remains committed to cooperate with the authorities and respond to any queries by them," DHFL informed the stock exchanges on Sunday. 

In a separate statement, the DHFL promoter family said: "We have nevertheless cooperated fully with the investigating agency to its satisfaction and will continue to do so to establish our innocence. We reiterate that all our actions are in consonance with the highest standards of integrity, and are lawful and legitimate and in the best interests of DHFL and all its stakeholders, including its creditors who have supported DHFL’s growth over the years. We reiterate that our actions over the past 12 months make clear our endeavour and intent. We will continue to work with the banks and institutions to ensure a smooth passage of the (debt) resolution plan, which is imperative for the nation’s economy and to avoid any systemic issue." 

Sources say the ED suspects some direct links between the two firms, as one of the directors of Sunblink, Sunny Bathija, is a brother-in-law of Dheeraj Wadhawan. 

The ED had recently arrested an Iqbal Memon aide, Haroun Yusuf, former chairman of the Sir Mohamed Yusuf Trust, and a real estate broker. It is also probing Millennium Developers, an entity controlled by Nationalist Congress Party member and former Union aviation minister, Praful Patel. He was questioned by the ED on Friday and the latter says he claimed to be unaware of the underworld reputation of Memon.

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