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Close BJP connections helped Ryan International's Grace Pinto land govt posts, escape money laundering charges

Grace Pinto, the managing director of Ryan International Group of Institutions and trustee of St Xavier's Schools, has quite a reputation in political circles of Mumbai and Delhi. Firstpost had reported how the 62-year-old maintains close equations with several parties and leaders on both sides of the political divide, and it appears that it may have been these connections that helped her survive serious money laundering allegations as well.

Grace Pinto with Maharashtra governor Vidyasagar Rao and chief minister Devendra Fadnavis. Courtesy: Ryan International School

Grace Pinto with Governor Vidyasagar Rao and Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis. Courtesy: Ryan International School

Despite serious accusations of money laundering levelled against her by SEBI in 2015, Grace Pinto was appointed by the Mahila Morcha of BJP as its general secretary from Mumbai. Furthermore, she was also made director of the Cotton Corporation of India (CCI) in February 2017, as can be seen from the official website of the Cotton Corporation of India.

CCI, a central government undertaking, is a company headquartered in Navi Mumbai. Grace Pinto took office as its managing director on 2 February this year. Her DIN number is 07779221. The records are available on the official website of the Ministry of Corporate Affairs. It's said that it was due to her closeness with Home Minister Rajnath Singh, Mahila Morcha president Vijaya Rahatkar, Maharashtra chief minister Devendra Fadnavis and many senior BJP leaders from Maharashtra and Delhi, that she was chosen to head the undertaking by Smriti Irani, who heads the Union Textile Ministry.

However, with controversies against the Pintos and the Ryan group of schools continuing, it remains to be seen what action will be taken in this regard.

Ryan and Grace Pinto with Maharashtra chief minister Devendra Fadnavis. Courtesy: Ryan International School

Ryan and Grace Pinto with Maharashtra chief minister Devendra Fadnavis. Courtesy: Ryan International School

Things took a turn for the worse for the Pintos after a Class II student of Ryan International school in Gurugram was found murdered in the school premises last week. But this wasn't the first such incident to have occurred at the school. In 2016, a child's body was found inside the water tank in the school's Vasant Kunj branch in Delhi. Before that, a seven-year-old was sexually assaulted by the principal of St. Xavier's School in Andheri, which is also owned by the same education trust.

It was her closeness to a certain BJP leader which got Grace Pinto a position on the board of directors of the textile ministry. Documents at the Ministry of Corporate Affairs reveal that Pinto was appointed independent director. NCP chief spokesperson Nawab Malik pointed this out, and asked why was a person who hailed from the education sector given charge of heading a public undertaking in the cotton industry. Malik further demanded she be fired from the post in the aftermath of the child's murder.

"Especially considering she also heads the Mahila Morcha wing, how can she be expected to provide justice to the mother of the slain child? It's the BJP leadership which is holding her hand, and that is why one week after the incident, BJP leaders are still keeping mum on the issue," Malik added.

The money laundering cases against the Pinto matriarch goes back to 2015, but the Modi government still elevated her to the posts in 2017. The cases involve mysterious investing of money in stock markets and illegally manipulating shares of Kamalakshi Limited's shares, which rose from Rs 10 to Rs 489. According to documents on the Securities and Exchange Board of India website, Grace and Augustine Pinto were among the investors at Kamalakshi Limited, who allegedly laundered over Rs 32 crore. The same company was later banned by SEBI from trading in the stock market for manipulating prices.

Updated Date: Sep 14, 2017 22:21 PM

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