New Delhhi: Humayun Merchant, a close confidant of Iqbal Mirchi, is a crucial cog in the wheels of the drug lord's illicit empire. Merchant first came under the scanner of the central probe agencies in 2010 when he had issued threat to office bearers of a trust involved in a shady land deal. Merchant, subsequently, played a key role in settling the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between Sunblink Real Estate and Joy Home Creations Limited, which are also being probed by the Enforcement Directorate. According to ED officials, they have intercepted communication (back and forth) between Mirchi, his advocates and Merchant for the agreement, where a name 'Mr. Misqita' was also mentioned.
"Merchant was questioned last week about the deal related to three properties of Mirchi and deals with Sunblink Estate. There was a heritage issue and a Wakf issue involved with land and Sunblink was given the responsibility to deal with these two politically-hot issues. There were several other issues in the MoU which triggered the alarm. Although, Merchant was carrying a 'Power of Attorney' issued by Mirchi, he was being paid separately to fix the deals," officials, requesting anonymity, said.
Firstpost has accessed one such document which is dated 9 February, 2011. The letter reveals that Mirchi paid Merchant to handle the vexed issues related to real estate deals. In one instance, Mirchi's wife Hajra Iqbal Memon paid Rs 2 crore to Merchant. The money was paid from Bank of India, Mumbai Central branch.
Merchant name came up again when Mirchi took up a project 'Ben Newis' Maval Taluka in Pune. Documents recovered by ED shows that Merchant was the point person to develop the property at 92/4, Kunenama in Pune and a project evaluation report was submitted to him for onward transmission to Mirchi in London. A letter dated 18 June, 2011 addressed to Merchant by the contractors said that the Pune project was to be completed at the cost of Rs 7.86 crore.
"As per your instructions, I am hereby submitting project evaluation report regarding the on-going development work, 'Ben Newis, 92/4 Kunenama. With mutual consent of all the members present for the meeting at Lonavala we have finalized the total cost as Rs.7.86 crore," the letter said.
There are four other major issues which ED is trying to dig out from Merchant, Haroun Yusuf and Ranjeet Singh Bindra who were picked up earlier by the investigators.
Firstly, mode and method of payments made by Sunblink Real Estate to the accounts in Dubai are allegedly linked to Mirchi, and ascertain the utilisation of funds totaling Rs 2,186 crore received as loan on the proceeds of crime by Sunblink Real Estate Private Limited.
Secondly, details of foreign bank accounts involved in the matter from where payments were made by Sunblink Real Estate Private Limited to the accounts in Dubai and other overseas countries, and finally, utilisation of cash amounts withdrawn from dummy amounts opened in the dummy name of tenants in Chennai.
Merchant, at the behest of Mirchi, had projected fake tenants in Sea View, Marium Lodge and Rabia Mansion. Investigation has revealed that one tenancy State Transport Corporation was even shown as "surrendered" and "new tenancy" was created in the name of Jyot Fashion, a company of Jayesh Soni. It appears that the letters and records have been forged to create and plant dummy persons as tenants at a later date. When Sunblink Real Estate entered the project, a deal was finalised to surrender all tenancy rights in favor of Sunblink for an amount of Rs 225 crores between Humayun Merchant, Joy Home Creations and Sunblink.
Of the total amount, Rs 50 crore was paid off to Joy Home Creations, Rs 4.5 crore to Sir Yusuf Trust and the rest of Rs 170 crore was paid to Humayun Merchant. ED officials, during the course of investigation, discovered that cheques issued by Sunblink Real Estate in favour of tenants were encashed by opening bank accounts in the similar names at locations in Chennai and these accounts remained operative for a brief period till cheques were encashed.
ED officials said that the money was received by Merchant on behalf of Mirchi. Merchant's job was also to assure the buyers, who were purchasing Mirchi's properties, that they were free from government attachment and tenants in the buildings were his own people. Acting as a close confidante of Mirchi, he also used to arrange meetings with builders abroad.
Updated Date: Oct 22, 2019 17:11:37 IST