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Iqbal Mirchi's associates, family under scanner of Scotland Yard, UAE authorities

The move comes after the chargesheet filed by ED in PMLA court earlier this month

December 24, 2019 / 10:11 PM IST

The late gangster and drug trafficker Iqbal Mirchi's family is under the scanner of officials from the United Kingdom's Scotland Yard and the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

According to highly places sources, the UK-based Scotland Yard recently questioned two associates of Mirchi that have been working closely with him since he fled to the UK in the late eighties.

A red corner notice was issued against Mirchi by the Interpol in 1994, and he was designated as a Significant Narcotics Trafficker under Foreign Narcotics Kingpin Act by the US.

Attempts by Indian authorities to nab Mirchi in the nineties failed due to a lack of evidence. According to sources, Scotland Yard officials will also be questioning his family members.

Mirchi and his family owns around fifteen properties in the UK, and according to the chargesheet compiled by the Enforcement Directorate (ED), most of the properties have been bought using proceeds from crime.

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The ED has provisionally attached a number of immovable properties related to the Iqbal Memon, alias Iqbal Mirchi, case.

Meanwhile, in the UAE, where Mirchi's children, Asif and Junaid Memon, and his first wife, Hajra Memon, are presently residing and running various business like hotels, and are under the scanner of the UAE authorities.

The ED chargesheet states that after fleeing from India in late eighties , Mirchi brought a hotel named Imperial Suites from the proceeds of his crimes, and used it as a front to launder money to his UK-based companies.

Also, in a recent probe, it was discovered that three working properties were sold to DHFL's Dheeraj Wadhawan for Rs 225 crore, and were used to buy a hotel named Midwest Apartment in UAE. A source confirmed that the authorities from the UAE might seek details from ED on the findings.

Mirchi was an international drugs dealer and smuggler, who had amassed huge wealth and acquired various immovable properties and businesses across the globe.

After a detailed investigation under Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA), some of these properties held in India have been provisionally attached by the Directorate against two Provisional Attachment Orders. The market value of these properties is around Rs 600 crore.

In the first Provisional Attachment Order, immovable properties, having value of Rs 76.32 crore in 2010, have been provisionally attached.

These properties include the third and fourth floor of CEEJAY House , Worli, Mumbai; an office premise at Arun Chambers, Tardeo, Mumbai; three flats in Sahil Bungalow, Worli, Mumbai; three prime commercial shops in Crawford Market, Mumbai; and bungalows and land spanning more than 5 acres in Lonawala. These properties were acquired by Iqbal Mirchi in the name of his family members and relatives.

The investigation under the PMLA also revealed that Mirchi indirectly owned various properties in and around Mumbai. His family owned 14,000 sqft of the third and fourth floor of Ceejay House — a 15-floor prime commercial property in Worli, Mumbai. This property was redeveloped by Millennium Developer. Investigations also revealed that certain part of plot was earlier in possession of one MK Mohammad.

Iqbal Mirchi entered into an agreement with MK Mohammed for acquiring the rights in the property in the name of his wife Hajra Memon for Rs 9 lakh and the agreement was executed in 1986.

Though payments of only Rs 20,000 was made in 1986, the possession of the property was taken by Iqbal Memon in 1986 itself and he started running a discotheque by the name of 'Fisherman’s Wharf'. Later on, at the time of redevelopment, Mirchi was given 14,000 sqft on the third and fourth floor of the newly constructed Ceejay House in Worli Area in the name of his wife Hajra Memon and his sons.

Three flats in one more prime property, Sahil Bunglow, were also acquired by Mirchi in the name of his relatives during the same period. In order to hide the criminal origin of the funds to acquire the properties, he purchased one flat each in the name of his wife Hajra Memon, his sister Zaibunnisaa Mohammad Memon, and brother Aslam Merchant.

The intentions became clear when Aslam Merchant gifted his and Zaibunnisaa Menon’s (as her heir) share in the property to his Mirchi's wife Hajra Memom, and her son Junaid Memon. This meant that the entire property is in possession of the family of Iqbal Memon, and was purchased by Iqbal Mirchi from one Iqbal Doodhwala.

The property in Lonawala was earlier in the name of Hajra Memon. In 2005, the ownership of the same was transferred without any consideration to M/s White Water Developers, a company formed by Humayun Merchant, who is a close associate of Iqbal Mirchi. In 2010, the directorship of White Water Developers was transferred to Junaid Iqbal Memon and Asif Iqbal Memon, who are the sons of Iqbal Mirchi.

In the second Provisional Attachment order, three properties, having present market value of around Rs 500 crore, have been attached. These properties are at Rabia Mansion, Marium Lodge and Sea View in the prime location of Worli, Mumbai. The investigation revealed that Sunblink Real Estate paid a total amount of Rs 111.80 crore to various persons/entities, including Mirchi, in India in relation to the purchase of development rights of these properties in addition to approximately Rs 154 crore  paid to Iqbal Mirchi in Dubai.

From the proceeds received in Dubai, Iqbal Memon purchased a Hotel namely Midwest Apartment in Dubai for AED 93 million. The investigation under the PMLA revealed that the ownership of these properties is still with one Sir Yusuf Mohammed Trust, which acted in active collusion with Mirchi and was the proxy owner on behalf of Mirchi. Also, the investigation uncovered that the property was involved in money laundering, and hence, the same has also been provisionally attached under the PMLA.
Tarun Sharma
first published: Dec 24, 2019 10:04 pm

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