The Enfrocement Directorate (ED) has arrested Chairman and Managing Director of Mumbai-based Omkar Realtors and Developers under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA). Kamal Gupta, Chairman of Omkar Realtors and Developers, and Babulal Verma, Managing Director of the firm, have been arrested in connection with the alleged Rs 22,000 crore SRA scam case.
The ED conducted raids in Mumbai at 10 premises of the group and its promoters since Monday on charges of misusing various permissions given under the Slum Rehabilitation Authority (SRA) schemes. It was also alleged that the group diverted around Rs 450 crore taken by way of a loan from YES Bank.
The raids went on for three days till Wednesday morning and by noon Verma and Gupta were brought to the ED office along with large amounts of documents, hard disks and laptops belonging to them. The agency officials conducted raid at seven residential premises and three office premises of the Omkar Group officials and company.
The YES Bank loan scam is being investigated by the ED and some arrests have already been done in the case. YES Bank co-promoter Rana Kapoor (63) and scam-hit Dewan Housing Finance Limited (DHFL) promoters Kapil Wadhawan and Dheeraj Wadhawan have been arrested in the case by the ED last year and they are currently in judicial custody. Kapoor, whose bail petition in the case was rejected by the Bombay High Court on Monday, was arrested in a fresh money laundering case on Wednesday in Mumbai.
Meanwhile, Omkar Group has said it is a matter related to some writ petitions filed against the firm before the Bombay High Court. The business group said it has not diverted any funds and "has acted as per legal rules and regulations".
"The management of Omkar Group would like to emphatically state that such baseless allegations are an attempt to create confusion and create hurdles in the implementation of SR (slum rehabilitation) schemes by approaching various authorities. All matters pertaining to scheme, for clubbing/de-clubbing purpose, are carried out as per legal norms laid out by the state government," a company spokesperson said.
"The matter raised by the petitioner in regards to a Rs 450 crore loan from YES Bank is availed under banking guidelines as project loan against sale collaterals and utilised for the stated purpose only. We will like to emphatically state that there are no diversions of any project fund availed by us in any project of the company," the spokesperson further added.
A petition had been filed in 2019 against the Omkar Group and one Golden Age group of Companies at the Bombay High court, alleging that the two firms had forged documents in name of slum dwellers and in collusion with the Slum Rehabilitation Authority (SRA) obtained the Letter of Intent (LoI). With this LoI, the two companies obtained various loans amounting to around Rs 22,000 crore from various banks including YES Bank for redevelopment in Jogeshwari area of North Western Mumbai. But the two companies didn't have required permission for the project from government agencies.
The writ petition had also sought investigation by ED in the matter following which investigation has been launched by the agency.
In the petition, Advocate Tanveer Nizam, representing the petitioner, said, "The financial controller of SRA has failed to note that Omkar Ventures Group companies have a debt more than 2 times of their paid-up capital. As per Companies Act, the company cannot have a debt-equity ratio more that 2:1. However officials at SRA have failed in their duty to look at this. The petitioner apprehends a dangerous situation like Vijay Malya, Nirav Modi, etc."