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ED raids Viva Group, seizes Rs 73 lakh cash (Ld)

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Mumbai, Jan 22 (IANS) Continuing its probe into the Punjab & Maharashtra Cooperative (PMC) Bank Ltd scam, the Enforcement Directorate on Friday seized Rs 73 lakh after raiding five premises belonging to the Viva Group and its associates in Mumbai and Palghar, officials said here on Friday.

These included the Viva Group’s offices in Andheri and Virar (Palghar), besides residences of its top officials in Andheri, Juhu and Chembur (Mumbai), leading to the seizure of the cash and other incriminating documents.

Raids were conducted at three premises linked to the Viva Groups’ head, Mehul Thakur, and three premises connected with chartered accountants/financial consultants.

The ED action followed leads that a large amount of money had allegedly been transferred from HDIL to companies and trusts of the Viva Group, which is controlled by the prominent Thakur clan of Virar in Palghar.

Nearly two years ago, the ED had launched a probe against HDIL promoters Rakesh Wadhawan and Sarang Wadhawan, PMC Bank’s former Chairman Waryam Singh and MD Joy Thomas, and others after the PMC Bank scam broke out in September 2019.

The ED entered the picture after the Mumbai Police’s Economic Offences Wing lodged an FIR against the HDIL and Wadhawans, for causing losses of Rs 4,355 crore to the PMC Bank.

Later, several properties of Rakesh Wadhawan and the Wadhawan Family Trust, worth around Rs 293 crore, and jewellery worth Rs 63 crore were seized and attached, and proceedings were launched under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) by the ED.

Further investigations revealed that the Wadhawans and the Viva Group connived to divert over Rs 160 crore from HDIL to many companies of the latter (Viva Group) disguised as ‘commission’, though the funds were apparently illegal diversions from the PMC Bank.

Simultaneously, the ED started probing another case against Rakesh Wadhawan and Sarang Wadhawan for siphoning off Rs 200 crore sanctioned by Yes Bank to the Mack Star Marketing Pvt. Ltd., by allegedly showing some fictitious purposes.

In this matter, even the Central Bureau of Investigations had initiated a probe which found that the Wadhawans illegally transferred two commercial properties of the Mack Star Marketing in Caledonia Building in Andheri East worth Rs 34.36 crore to Viva Holdings, an entity of Viva Group.

For the transfer of these two properties, separate sale agreements dated June 26, 2017 were drawn up in which the sale values for the two deals were shown as Rs 34.36 crore in total.

As per the sale agreements, the amount was paid through 37 cheques by Viva Holdings to Mack Star Marketing for the deal, but investigations revealed that these cheques were never encashed, pointing out that Viva Holdings never paid for buying the properties to Mack Star Marketing.

Accordingly, the ED said that the Wadhawans had illegally transferred these properties to Viva Holdings, violating the articles of association with Mack Star Marketing, and that Viva Holdings never showed these properties in its books.

–IANS

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