Unitech founders operating ‘secret underground office’ from jail, reveals ED

NEW DELHI: The Enforcement Directorate (ED) on Thursday revealed that erstwhile Unitech founders Ramesh Chandra and Sanjay Chandra were operating a “secret underground office” in South Delhi from the Tihar jail and ordered a probe against officials conniving with them.
The office was being operated by Ramesh Chandra and was visited by his sons Sanjay Chandra and Ajay Chandra when on parole or bail.
“During one of our search and seizure operations, we have unearthed a secret underground office, which is being used by Ramesh Chandra and visited by his sons when they are out on parole or bail.
“We have recovered hundreds of original sale deeds from that office, hundreds of digital signatures and several computers which contain sensitive data with regard to their properties in India and abroad,” additional solicitor general Madhavi Divan told the bench.
The ED in its report stated that the former Unitech founders deputed jail staff outside the premises to communicate with people from outside and dispose off properties.
Consequently, the apex court directed the Chandras to be shifted from Tihar jail to Arthur Road jail and Taloga jail in Maharashtra.
The central probing agency also said in its report that both Sanjay and Ajay have rendered the entire judicial custody meaningless with their acts.
They seized hundereds of original property sale deeds, digital signatures and computers with sensitive information from Unitech’s secret office.
In response, the SC noted that Tihar jail has become safe heaven for criminals to operate from inside the prison and it will certainly take the jail officials to task.
It has asked the Delhi police commissioner to personally hold inquiry into the conduct of jail officials who were involved and submit report in 4 weeks.
Both Sanjay and Ajay 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 Chandras have claimed that they complied with the court’s conditions and they have deposited an amount in excess of Rs 750 crore and therefore they are granted regular bail.
The top court had noted that since the October 2017 order, significant events have taken place and the apex court had directed a forensic audit to be conducted by Grant Thornton.
It said that the court had earlier directed the Centre to ensure that all aspects, which were adverted to in the forensic report, should be investigated by the competent agencies, including with regard to the aspect of money laundering.
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 11,000 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.
In 2018, the top court had directed a forensic audit of Unitech Ltd and its sister concerns and subsidiaries by Samir Paranjpe, Partner, Forensic and Investigation Services in Grant Thornton India.
The forensic auditors had submitted their report which said that Unitech Ltd received around Rs 14,270 crore from 29,800 home buyers from 2006-2014 and around Rs 1,805 crore from six financial institutions for the construction of 74 projects.
(With inputs from agencies)

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