ED arrests actor-businessman Sachin Joshi in money laundering case

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Mumbai, Feb 15 (PTI) The Enforcement Directorate (ED) has arrested Sachin Joshi, an actor-producer hailing from a family having gutka manufacturing business, in connection with a money laundering case against the city-based Omkar Realtors and Developers, officials said on Monday.

They said Joshi, 37, was arrested under relevant sections of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) on Sunday after he was questioned for several hours by the investigating officer of the case.

A special anti-money laundering court here later sent him to the custody of the ED till February 18.

Joshi's father J M Joshi is the promoter of the JMJ Group which is into the business of manufacturing gutka, pan masala and some other products, besides operating in the hospitality sector.

Sachin Joshi is stated to have acted in some south Indian and Hindi movies and was producer of some of them.

The income tax department had conducted multi-city raids against the group and those linked to it for almost six days and the action ended on February 13.

Tax department officials claimed they detected 'unaccounted' transactions of about Rs 1,500 crore after the action.

The ED, meanwhile, said it wanted to put Sachin Joshi through custodial interrogation in order to probe alleged 'diversion' of about Rs 87 crore, allegedly misappropriated from a slum rehabilitation scheme fund, from the Omkar Group to a company linked to him, Viking group.

'It is established that loans availed from Yes Bank has been diverted and accused (Sachin Joshi) has helped promoters of Omkar Group in such diversion for an amount of at least Rs 87 crore,' the ED claimed while seeking his remand.

'The interrogation of Sachin Joshi may reveal crucial facts which are in his exclusive domain.' This is 'a behemoth scam' involving huge sum of money which has been siphoned off by the accused in connivance with other persons, the ED alleged.

Sachin Joshi, in his statement recorded with the ED, denied any wrongdoing.

The ED had last month arrested Omkar Realtors and Developers chairman Kamal Kishore Gupta and its managing director Babulal Varma after raids were carried out against them and the group.

The PMLA case pertains to alleged irregularities in the execution of the SRA (slum rehabilitation authority) scheme in development of a housing society in Mumbai.

The company and the two executives are also facing allegations of 'diverting' over Rs 400 crore loan from Yes bank.

The ED case has been filed after studying an FIR of the Aurangabad district police in Maharashtra that was registered under various sections of IPC like cheating and criminal breach of trust, the agency had said earlier.

The ED had quoted the police FIR to say that 'Omkar Realtors and Developers Pvt Ltd and its directors bought a firm 'Surana Construction' which had SRA rights for re-development of Anand Nagar SRA Cooperative Housing Society in Mumbai's Wadala area'.

'However, Omkar and its promoters did not pay back the amount due to the seller and also mortgaged future FSI (floor space index) of the said SRA project and took huge amounts of loans,' it said.

The ED also claimed its probe found that 'loans to the tune of Rs 410 crore were diverted and not used for intended purposes'.

'No work of SRA building was undertaken. The requisite rules and procedures under SRA were ignored by the accused and documents relating to names of slum dwellers were forged to claim more FSI for mortgaging the same with banks for taking the loans,' the ED had alleged.

Reacting to the arrests of its top executives, the realty group had said that it was 'emphatic that Omkar Group is not in violation of any lending norms and slum approvals'. PTI NES SMN SMN