PMC bank scam: Political broker is under hawala lens

Mumbai: A top HDIL executive and a controversial 'liasoning agent' are presently under the Enforcement Directorate scanner for laundering an estimated Rs 1,000 crore at the behest of the Wadhwans, who have been arrested in connection with the Rs 4355 crore scam in the Punjab and Maharashtra Co-operative (PMC) bank.

The ED suspects that the money laundered to a foreign destination was part of Wadhwans' crime proceeds.Sources said the executives' office and residential premises were searched by the ED sleuths on Saturday.

He, along with the 'liasoning agent' were subjected to day-long questioning on Monday.Sources said that the HDIL executive, who works as a senior manager in the company, is considered to be a close confidant of the Wadhwans.

The liasoning agent, who lives in Bandra (w), is known for his proximity to a string of top notch politicians from across the spectrum as well as the nouveau riche party-circuit in the western suburbs.

"The (liasoning agent) has long been known to broker deals between filthy businessmen and politicians for a commission. He is an old hand in parking black money abroad through hawala," sources said.

Sources also said the duo helped park between Rs 500 crore to Rs 1,000 crore of the Wadhwans in a West Asian country between 2008 and 2012.

That was the time when maximum loans had been allotted to HDIL and its affiliates by the PMC, whose total exposure to the Wadhwan-led firms has been estimated at over Rs 6,600 crores.

The money, laundered using hawala channels, had been remitted from two (out of the 44) borrowal accounts opened by the Wadhwas in PMC for making proxy investments in two bogus off-shore petroleum ventures.

As per the findings so far, the default loans in the 44 accounts, calculated to be Rs 4355 crore till the last count, were masked by opening 21,000 bogus accounts in order to avoid queries during audits.

By Debasish Panigrahi