Enforcement Directorate (ED) on Friday slapped Rs.288 crore ($43.2 million) show cause notice to controversial Dubai based businessman C C Thampi, considered close to Sonia Gandhi’s family under the Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA). C C Thampi, a businessman from Kerala popularly known as Kallu Thampi, is caught by the ED for foreign exchange violations in purchasing land at prime localities in Delhi, Noida, Faridabad and Palwal. Kallu in Malayalam means local liquor and C C Thampi (61) is known as Kallu Thampi for his early business in liquor business in Gulf region.
Thampi’s story is similar to a Rags-to-Riches story.
Thampi became close to Sonia Gandhi’s family through her controversial private secretary Vincent George, who also hails from Kerala. That Thampi enjoys good business relations with Sonia Gandhi’s son in law Robert Vadra is well known. Thampi’s hospitality in Dubai has been enjoyed by Vadra and Rahul Gandhi for the past 13 years.
Thampi’s story is similar to a Rags-to-Riches story. His official name in government records is Cheruvathoor Chakkutty Thambi and born in a poor family from Thrissur District in Kerala. He landed in Ajman in UAE as a bar attendee in the early 80s and engaged in illicit liquor trading and earned the nick name Kallu Thampi. Then he entered into hotel business and liquor whole sale business, and ship channelling and Oil bunkering business. Now he is running a hotel chain called as the Holiday Group and many real estate companies. He also runs an engineering college in Kerala known as Thejas Engineering College. Thampi has a restaurant chain in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) known as Nalukettu Group of restaurants. His other companies in Ajman and Sharjah are Holiday Beach Club, Seaview Marine Services, Holiday Arabian Resort, Holiday Rent a Car, Holiday Marine Services, Holiday Duty Free Shop, Uniglobe General Trading and Al Khaleej Tyre Factory. He also runs an advertising company called as Ras Al Khaima Media Services.
Thampi entered into Sonia Gandhi family coterie in early 2000 when most of the Congress MPs from Kerala were enjoying his hospitality in Gulf. Thampi is close with Congress MPs such as Shashi Tharoor, Anto Antony, K V Thomas and other Congress leaders like Ramesh Chennithala and P C Chacko. Thampi also enjoys good relations with Vadra and there were talks in Congress circles about his purchases of properties in Central Park in New York.
It is an open secret that Air India flights from Dubai used to regularly transport Thampi’s baggage to Delhi’s top guys till May 2014.
It is an open secret that Air India flights from Dubai used to regularly transport Thampi’s baggage to Delhi’s top guys till May 2014. Immigration/ Customs clearance are only for the common man. To quote George Orwell, “All are equal but some are more equal”. Even the CPI(M) and CPI leaders from Kerala enjoyed Thampi’s hospitality in Gulf region. It is a known secret that Thampi was the host of former Chief Justice K G Balakrishnan, when he visited Dubai in 2009.
“Thampi, an NRI, had acquired huge agricultural land mass in Palwal and Faridabad districts of Haryana in the name of his company Holiday City Centre Pvt Ltd by circumventing the prescribed law of land and in contravention of extant provision of FEMA,” the ED said in a statement.
“In pursuant to a complaint, an investigation was initiated, which revealed that Thampi was residing outside India and he had advanced unsecured loans to his three companies which was later converted into equity in his name and in the name of his family members in these companies,” it said.
The ED statement said by using the “said funds he had acquired a huge agricultural land mass in Palwal, National Capital Region (NCR) and Gautam Buddha Nagar in Uttar Pradesh” through the above mentioned companies, which he otherwise would not have been able to purchase, being a person residing outside India.”
It will be interesting to see when ED determines on whose behalf Thampi was purchasing these huge tracts of land in the Delhi region.
“The agricultural land purchased by Thampi through the above mentioned companies in contravention of the relevant provisions of FEMA has also been proposed therein for confiscation to the Central government account,” it said.
“The FEMA contravention identified in the show cause notice is over Rs.288 crore ($43.2 million),” it said, adding investigation is underway. ED action on Thampi is worrisome news to Sonia Gandhi’s family members due to his proximity with them. It will be interesting to see when ED determines on whose behalf Thampi was purchasing these huge tracts of land in the Delhi region.
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