SFIO says discovered some properties of Unitech, SC allows it to file report
The Serious Fraud Investigation Office (SFIO) on Wednesday told the Supreme Court that it has prepared a report on irregularities in tainted real estate firm Unitech Ltd and has found some of its properties, owned through shell companies. The SFIO sought permission to file its report in a sealed cover, saying they need to bring certain issues to the knowledge of the court. Recently the Supreme Court ordered the transfer of Unitech promoters Sanjay Chandra and Ajay Chandra from Delhi jail to Mumbai jail, finding the real estate promoters were flouting jail norms and running their business operations from Delhi’s jail.
A bench of justices D Y Chandrachud, Vikram Nath, and B V Nagarathna told Additional Solicitor General Madhavi Divan, appearing for the SFIO that though it was scheduled to sit on Thursday but due to some problem, the special bench will sit on next Wednesday. “You can file your report in a sealed cover but the matter will be taken up next Wednesday,” the bench said.
The matter pertains to a criminal case which started initially by one complaint lodged in 2015 and later joined by 173 other home buyers of Unitech projects — ‘Wild Flower Country’ and ‘Anthea Project’ — situated in Gurugram.
At the outset, Divan, while mentioning the matter, said, “The SFIO has prepared its report on its investigation into Unitech Ltd. They have found some properties of the group and need some clarification. Some of the properties which they have found are overlapping with the properties found by the Enforcement Directorate (ED)”.
Divan said, “We need clarification whether the SFIO report should be filed in a sealed cover or in a normal course. We also need to bring certain issues to the knowledge of the court”. Earlier, the apex court, which had perused two status reports of the ED, said Tihar Jail Superintendent and other staff are “absolutely shameless” for conniving with the Chandra brothers to flout the court orders and undermine its jurisdiction. Pursuant to the direction of the top court, the Chandra brothers were shifted to jails in Mumbai.
The two ED reports have raised some “serious and disturbing” issues for consideration and will be dealt with accordingly, the top court had said. It had directed the Delhi Police Commissioner to personally hold inquiry forthwith about the conduct of the Tihar Jail staff with regard to the Chandras and submit the report to the court within four weeks. The ED had made a startling revelation that it had unearthed a “secret underground office” here which was being operated by erstwhile Unitech founder Ramesh Chandra and visited by his sons Sanjay and Ajay when on parole or bail.
Besides ED and SFIO, the Economic Offence Wing of Delhi Police is also conducting an investigation into the affairs of the Unitech Group and business transactions of erstwhile promoters of the real estate company. Both Sanjay and Ajay who are in jail since August 2017 are accused of allegedly siphoning home buyers’ money. The top court in its October 2017 order had asked them to deposit Rs.750 crore with the apex court registry by December 31, 2017.
The matter pertains to a criminal case which started initially by one complaint lodged in 2015 and later joined by 173 other home buyers of Unitech projects — ‘Wild Flower Country‘ and ‘Anthea Project‘ — situated in Gurugram. On January 20 last year, in a respite to over 15,000 hassled home buyers of Unitech, the top court had allowed the Centre to take total management control of the realty firm and appoint a new board of nominee directors.
Unitech once considered the second-largest real estate firm (after DLF) started collapsing after the arrest of Sanjay Chandra in the 2G scam in 2011. The real estate firm is believed to have more than 500 shell firms and had bank accounts in many tax havens.
[with PTI inputs]
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