Money laundering case: Hilal Rather has no properties abroad, says his counsel

Srinagar: The counsel for Hilal Rather, who is facing a probe by the Enforcement Directorate in a money laundering case, on Sunday said his client has no properties abroad and if the government has found any, those should be auctioned and the proceeds used for the benefit of people.

The Enforcement Directorate (ED) had on Friday claimed that Rather, the son of former Jammu and Kashmir minister Abdul Rahim Rather, “siphoned off” money loaned to his company (Paradise Avenue) to splurge on foreign tours and acquiring personal assets in India, Dubai and the US.

Rather’s counsel Mudasir Raina said, in a statement, that his client owns no properties outside the country.

Regarding the false accusation of existence of properties in the UAE and the US, it is incumbent on the agencies to liquidate them and make public money good without wasting a single moment, but it would not happen as no such property exists, he said.

He also dismissed the charges that ‘benami’ properties were acquired by Rather.

The ED had on Thursday launched multiple raids in connection with the money laundering case linked to an alleged bank fraud probe against Rather.

The central probe agency had filed the money laundering case against Rather and others under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA), taking cognisance of a CBI FIR and Income Tax Department probe against him.

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The CBI has alleged that Rather entered into a criminal conspiracy with the then officials of the Jammu and Kashmir Bank to get loans of Rs 177.68 crore (approx) in violation of rules and guidelines.

Rejecting the ED allegations that the loan money was siphoned off, Raina claimed that Rather had spent more money than the amount of loan obtained for the construction of a project.

Out of the total outstanding loan amount, the principal component of the loan for the construction of the project was only around Rs 128 crore, rest being interest component during the construction period.

Anyone with some idea of construction costs in prefabricated steel structures can vouch that more than Rs 150 crore have been spent on the project, which can be easily corroborated through a valuation of the constructed project by independent experts. The project is not hidden from anyone and stands tall for everyone to see, he said.

Raina said Paradise Avenue, a firm comprising of five partners — Deepshika Jamwal, Daljeet Wadera, Rizwan Dar, Ghulam Mohammed Bhat and Hilal Rather — acquired a loan of Rs 128 crore for the construction of flats at Narwal in Jammu in 2012.

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Before any further clarification, it is pertinent to mention that Hilal Rather holds only about 30 per cent share in the company, the rest 70 per cent is held by the other four partners. It is also important to mention that around Rs 37 crore has been received back by the bank as repayment against the principal loan amount, he said.

Rather’s counsel also said that the company has not availed a one-time settlement with Jammu and Kashmir Bank.

He said it is alleged that four loans were sanctioned to the firm without any collateral or receiving the payment for the earlier loans.

It needs to be explained that how is it that the bank provided the financial support to the firm twice even when an adverse political regime was in power and no so-called influence could have been used by any of the partners of M/s Paradise Avenue, he claimed.

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