A day after arresting Thane resident Amit Chandole,46, in connection with a money-laundering case involving alleged links with Shiv Sena legislator Pratap Sarnaik, the Enforcement Directorate (ED) has alleged misappropriation and kickbacks received in the contract bagged by Topsgrup with the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) .
Chandole has revealed in his statement that 50 % of the profit from the contract bagged by Topsgrup with MMRDA was shared with him, the agency revealed before the court on Thursday.Chandole was remanded to ED custody for three days. The ED registered a case on the basis of the FIR registered with Yellow gate police station. As per the FIR filed by Ramesh Iyer from the Topsgrup, Rahul Nanda, promoter and chairman of the group and other connected persons diverted huge funds from the account of Tops Group companies to various accounts in India and to accounts of overseas companies. As per the allegations, the company was defrauded to the tune of Rs 175 crore.
The ED recorded statements of Iyer and Amar Panghal, ex finance director of Topsgrup. “Iyer and Panghal in their statements stated that in the year 2014, a contract was signed by M/s Topsgrup services and solutions limited, with MMRDA as per which there were about 350 to 500 guards which were to be deployed on MMRDA sites on a monthly basis. That out of the same, only 70% of guards were actually deployed; that however the billing was done for all the guards as per contract and the wages paid details were submitted to MMRDA for 100 % of the contract value based on the number of guards to be deployed as per the contract and not on the basis of actual deployment of the guards,” the agency told court. “That accordingly compliance documents like PFs/ESIC are being submitted for 100% of the contract value and not on the basis of actual deployment, i.e at the reduced strength of the guards deployed,”
According to ED, they further stated that huge cash amounts were withdrawn from bank accounts of Topsgrup and were given to Niraj Bijlani, who is ex-CEO of Topsgrup; that in financial year 2017/18, an amount of Rs 92 lakhs approximately was handed over to Bijlani and there was an arrangement with two persons namely Sanket S. More and Chandole as per which 50 % of the profit (revenue billed to MMRDA, less wages, PF, ESIC) were being regularly shared on monthly basis; that in addition, a fixed commission of Rs 50,000 per month and Rs 500 per guard (as per contracted agreement) deployed is being paid to both these above persons and these amounts were paid Bijlai to both the above persons.
Iyer during the statement recorded on November 2 submitted that “Nanda told him that Chandole is a close confidant of Sarnaik and they have to share monthly profit emerging from MMRDA contract with Sarnaik through Chandole.
As per the details provided by Iyer, for the last three years, i.e from May 2017 till June 2020, amount aggregating to Rs 2.36 crore has been shared as commission,” ED told the court. “Out of the said amount, Rs 90 lakhs have been paid through bank transfers to More and Chandole. As per Iyer, all these amounts are still being paid from Topsgrup bank account and approximately commission of Rs 7 crore has been paid to More and Chandole since 2014, i.e from the initiation of contract with MMRDA,” the agency added.
During the course of investigations, statement of Bijlani, ex CEO of Tops Security Limited was recorded on Tuesday and Wednesday wherein he has stated that Nanda acquired a UK based company namely Shield Garding Company LTD in 2014 for around 200 to 250 crores. “That on the pretext of meeting the expenses of an overseas company, Nanda used to siphon off money from the Indian company and used to transfer the same to the overseas entities controlled by him. That funds were siphoned off from the company for the personal expense of Nanda and his family and Nanda acquired several immovable properties in Dubai and UK,” the agency said.
“On being asked about MMRDA contract, Bijlani submitted that the said contract was regarding security and traffic marshal of foot over bridges of Mumbai. That the contract was about 32/33 lakh per month; that regarding this contract, profit sharing was used to be done between M/s Tops Security Limited and Sarnaik on 50-50 basis and that for this purpose a profit sharing sheet was used to be prepared by finance department of the company and approved by the director of finance (Panghal); that on the basis of this sheet the said profit-sharing was used to be done; that one Chandole who is a close confidante of Sarnaik used to co-ordinate for the same with the finance department and used to collect the said profits on behalf of Sarnaik; that the funds mostly used to be delivered in cash; and that one Miss Latika Randive used to maintain the records for the same and she used to mostly used to coordinate with Chandole,” Nanda had earlier denied allegations of misappropriation while speaking with FPJ.
According to ED, statement of Chabdole has been recorded on Wednesday wherein he stated that he came into contact with Nanda through Sarnaik who is his close friend; that there was contract of Tops Group with MMRDA in which he was sharing 50 % of the profit arising out of the contract; that the contract was providing security to MMRDA lands; that there was no return agreement regarding sharing of 50 % profit and it was oral based on trust only ; that the payment regarding 50% profit share was used to be made to him in cash which was used to be given by Bijlani; that he also used to get payments in NEFT also; that the cash received from topsgroup used to be utilized towards household expenses, the agency told court.
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