Ex-Maharashtra bureaucrat arrested in UAE, following interpol notice

Ex-Maharashtra bureaucrat arrested in UAE, following interpol notice

NEW DELHI: A former Maharashtra government bureaucrat, wanted in a money laundering case, was arrested by the UAE police on the basis of a red-corner notice issued by the Interpol on the request of the Enforcement Directorate (ED), the Centre told Parliament today.

Union Minister of State for Finance Shiv Pratap Shukla, in a written reply, told the Rajya Sabha that Nitish J Thakur, a former deputy collector of the Maharashtra Housing and Area Development Authority (MHADA), was “arrested” by the United Arab Emirates (UAE) police on January 21.

He added that the Interpol notice was issued against Thakur in October last year on the request of the Enforcement Directorate and that the “extradition process has been initiated”.

The Enforcement Directorate had booked the former Maharashtra state services bureaucrat under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) as part of two FIRs filed by it in 2011 and 2012.

Mr Shukla, in his reply on the alleged illegal acts of Thakur, said provisions of the Income Tax Act “prohibit” the disclosure of information of an individual assessee.

He was asked if the tax department and other law enforcement agencies were investigating the cases of alleged illegal gratification of Rs. 250 crore given by M/s Shapoorji Pallonji Co. Ltd to a company called PRS Enterprises, owned by Thakur.

The minister said, “M/s Shapoorji Pallonji Company Limited had filed a civil suit no. 2576 of 2011 before the High Court of Bombay and obtained a decree in its favour on October 19, 2011 for transferring the properties acquired out of the funds given by it.”

He added that assets worth Rs. 119.43 crore were “attached” in the case so far.

The ED FIRs against Thakur and others were filed after taking cognisance of complaints filed by the Maharashtra Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) against him and his associates for alleged corruption and possession of disproportionate assets.

Thakur was arrested by the Maharashtra ACB in 2016, but he is absconding since obtaining bail in the case.

The ED had last year arrested Thakur’s brother, Nilesh, as part of its probe.

It was alleged that Nilesh Thakur had acted as a front for his brother and received tainted funds from a major infrastructure firm.

The ED had earlier said Thakur had “started a firm by the name M/s PRS Enterprises and inducted his brother Nilesh Thakur as its proprietor”.

The agency had also said investigations revealed that Thakur and others “have received a huge amount to the tune of Rs. 275 crore in the names of companies/firms created by Nilesh Thakur and other family members”.

It had said the probe prima facie revealed that a total amount of Rs. 275 crore, obtained by these companies, was nothing but proceeds of criminal activities related to money laundering.

“Though the party has claimed it to be project management consultancy (PMC) charges or advance for aggregation of land, however, this amount was not found to be bona fide income, hence it prima facie appears to be proceeds of crime,” the agency had said after arresting Nilesh Thakur last year.

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