Kundra clarifies on business dealings, ED questioning

Mumbai: A day after his marathon questioning by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) in connection with a money laundering probe involving former drug smuggler Iqbal Mirchi on Wednesday, Raj Kundra, entrepreneur and husband of Bollywood actor Shilpa Shetty, on Thursday claimed that he had business dealings with Dheeraj Diwan and Ranjit Singh Bindra, and not with any underworld element 'at any point in time.'

Kundra took to Twitter to issue a statement in which he clarified that the ED's questioning was in relation to two business deals -- transfer of a plot that he owned to Dheeraj Diwan promoted RKW Developers, and his investment in Bastian Restaurant at Bandra, which was owned by Ranjit Singh Bindra.

Kundra said that in 2011 he had negotiated with Dheeraj Diwan, who was the director of RKW Developers, for the sale of a plot near the airport which he owned. "All my dealings and correspondence that time was with Dheeraj only," he said adding that in 2013, he transferred his company Essential Hospitality (that owned the plot) to RKW Developers against a 'full and final' payment. "No loans were taken in this company and it was completely debt-free when we sold the same to RKW," he stated.

About his investments in Bastian, Kundra claims it happened in March 2019 when he was looking to invest in the F&B sector. "Ranjit Bindra approached me because he heard I was interested in this space with an offer to invest in his restaurant Bastian. I had been a regular patron at this popular restaurant and decided to invest in the same, buying a 50% share stake along with management rights," he clarified.

Incidentally, Bindra happens to be a controversial property broker who was arrested by the ED earlier this month in connection with three Worli-based properties he had brokered allegedly at the behest of Mirchi. The agency has also claimed to have learnt his role in facilitating overseas meetings of prospective buyers with the late fugitive smuggler who had taken asylum in London where he died in 2013.

Bindra is presently in judicial custody. Dewan too has come under the agency's radar in a money laundering probe involving the late drug smuggler.

ED claims that Dheeraj Diwan's NBFC, DHFL, had facilitated loans to Sunblink Developers, a firm purportedly linked to the former, in the deal for the three Worli properties -- ad measuring 1,537 sq

metres -- in 2011. The money was later laundered to Dubai and remitted to firms linked to Mirchi, the ED had claimed in documents submitted in the PMLA court.