Diamond and gold jewellery worth more than Rs 24 crore was seized after searches were carried out against a Maharashtra-based jewellery group, promoted by the family of a former NCP MP, and its owners in a money laundering case linked to alleged bank loan fraud, the Enforcement Directorate said on Saturday.
The raids were carried out on August 17 at 13 premises in Jalgaon, Nashik and Thane of Rajmal Lakhichand Jewellers Pvt Ltd, R L Gold Pvt. Ltd., Manraj Jewellers Pvt. Ltd. and their promoters such as former NCP Rajya Sabha MP Ishwarlal Shankarlal Jain Lalwani (77), his family members including Manish Ishwarlal Jain Lalwani, Pushpa Devi and Neetika Manish Jain, the agency said in a statement.
The money laundering case stems from three FIRs filed by the CBI against the accused on charges of loan fraud of more than Rs 352 crore at the country's largest lender, State Bank of India (SBI).
Details of 60 properties, valued at more than Rs 50 crore, belonging to Rajmal Lakhichand group have been gathered during the search proceedings, apart from two "benami" properties beneficially owned by Rajmal Lakhichand and Manish Jain and located in Jamner, Jalgaon and surrounding areas, the ED alleged.
The agency claimed it found various "discrepancies like bogus sale-purchase transactions being shown in the books of accounts with the main holding company, Rajmal Lakhichand Jalgaon partnership firm." A large amount of stock in trade was found to be completely missing, the agency alleged.
Against a declared stock of more than 1,284 kg of jewellery, the ED could trace only around 40 kg of jewellery and the loans taken against this declared stock was "siphoned off" by showing bogus purchases for non-existent jewellery, it said.
"The promoters failed to produce any supportive document to prove genuine utilisation of the loans by the three accused companies- Rajmal Lakhichand Jewellers Pvt. Ltd., R L Gold Pvt. Ltd., and Manraj Jewellers Pvt Ltd." "In fact they admitted that purposefully, no books of accounts, ledgers, stock registers, invoices or any supportive documents were maintained for the 2003-2014 fiscal (loan disbursement period)," it said.
According to the ED, analysis of the books of accounts of the accused companies for the 2022-23 fiscal showed that the stock as on 17.08.2023 in the companies had been "brought to zero in spite of being hypothecated to SBI".
"Fictitious entity with relatives as dummy directors were created to apply for new loans fraudulently and loans were routed through a convoluted web of bogus sale purchase transactions through related parties of Rajmal Lakhichand Group and finally invested in immovable properties by the promoters," it said.
The agency found that a new jewellery business in the name of R L Enterprises and new investments were done in real estate sector, car dealership, setting up a hospital by the promoters.
The ED claimed it recovered "suspicious" documents from some mobile phones which indicate FDI proposal of 50 million Euro from Luxembourg-based entity in the real estate company controlled by Manish Jain. It said a "large amount of incriminating documents and proceeds of crime consisting of 39.33 kg of gold and diamond jewellery valued at Rs 24.7 crore and cash of Rs 1.11 crore were seized during the searches."
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