"Misappropriated" funds of homebuyers were used by the promoter brothers of realty group Unitech to "bribe" Tihar jail officials during their confinement there, the ED said on Thursday as it attached assets worth Rs 257 crore in a money-laundering case against them.
"The provisionally attached properties include residential, commercial units, land parcels in Gurugram, Goa, Chennai and some other places, demand drafts, equity shares and bank balances. The properties are owned by CIG (Chandra Investment Group) Realty Fund and Authentic Group," the Enforcement Directorate (ED) said in a statement.
Two orders were issued under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) to freeze these assets. With this latest action, the ED has issued 14 attachment orders, freezing properties worth Rs 1,059.52 crore in the case.
The agency said its probe has found that homebuyers' funds amounting to Rs 244 crore were "illegally diverted" by Unitech promoters Ajay and Sanjay Chandra to CIG Realty Fund. "The diverted funds were used to purchase land owning companies of Unitech Group. Auram Asset Management Private Limited was one of the companies controlled by the Chandra family, which was used to manage the affairs of CIG Realty Fund.
"This company was also used by the Chandras to siphon off investors' funds from the accounts of CIG Realty Fund," it alleged. The "misappropriated" funds, the agency said, were used to "finance" the illegal activities of the Chandras such as "bribing" certain Tihar jail officials and other personal expenses of the Chandra brothers.
They were earlier lodged in the Tihar jail but after the ED informed the Supreme Court about their alleged illegal activities in the prison, the apex court ordered their transfer to a Mumbai jail. The ED probe also found out that in 2007, instead of building houses, homebuyers' funds to the tune of Rs 60.25 crore were "illegally diverted" by the Chandras to Authentic Group with an intention to build a seven-star resort in south Goa.
The agency had filed a money-laundering case against the group, its promoters and linked companies on June 6, 2018 on the directions of the Supreme Court and also after taking cognisance of two Delhi Police FIRs lodged by the Economic Offences Wing (EOW) and the Saket police station. According to the ED, the "proceeds of crime" detected in the case amount to Rs 6,452 crore and the agency has conducted 45 raids in the case till now.
The ED arrested the Chandra brothers, their father and founder of the Unitech Group Ramesh Chandra, Preeti Chandra (Sanjay Chandra's wife) and Rajesh Malik (the promoter of Carnoustie Group) in the case.