ED suspends bank account of HDIL promoter's wife
MUMBAI: The Enforcement Directorate (ED) has frozen a bank account belonging to Anu Wadhawan, the wife of Sarang Wadhawan, the jailed promoter of Housing Development Infrastructure Limited (HDIL). The real estate firm is being probed in a money-laundering case related to its unpaid loans from the beleaguered Punjab & Maharashtra Cooperative (PMC) Bank.
Sources in the ED said the account, with around Rs 5 crore in it, was frozen for its links to HDIL’s unpaid loans. “The account has been frozen as the fund is part of the proceeds of crime,” an ED source said. Anu Wadhawan, also known as Anu Dewan in social circles, is not an accused in the case.
Under the provisions of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA), the ED has so far attached HDIL’s immovable assets worth over Rs 193 crore, which include land and bank accounts. The attached assets belonged to the accused promoters Rakesh Kumar Wadhawan and his son Sarang, their family members and the Wadhawan family’s personal trust.
Among the attached land and structures are the Palghar-based groundplus one bungalow, the 7,144 sq mt ‘Dewan Villa’ valued at Rs 16.93 crore, land admeasuring 836.20 mt and a residential building valued at Rs 73.17 crore in Bandra West.
Besides, the ED has also seized jewellery and valuables worth Rs 63.75 crore, of which jewellery worth Rs 41.16 crore belonged to Anu Wadhawan.
Anu Wadhawan had told the ED that she drew a monthly salary of Rs 70 lakh as a retainer (marketing) in Privilege Industries Limited, an HDIL group company that manufactures a prominent brand of beer. She said she took on the role in 2016 but is “not involved in her husband’s business or financial activities”. The agency recorded her statement on October 5, 2019.
Lawyer Sujay Kantawala, who is one of the counsels of Privilege Industries Ltd, told Mirror, “Freezing the bank account is in complete contravention of the PMLA. The ED needs to prove that the funds had been projected as untainted and there was prior knowledge of it being part of the crime’s proceeds,” he said, adding, “The alleged offence of money-laundering will not sustain in court and the account’s freezing is an abuse of constitutional right to carry on a legitimate business.”
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