The Enforcement Directorate (ED) is now probing links between Member of Parliament Sanjay Raut and a large Mumbai stock broker Chandra Prakash Khandelwal, who ran brokerage house Systematix. ED believes that Khandelwal and Raut were involved in a money laundering racket involving the PACL chit-fund scam, sources told BusinessLine.

Khandelwal was arrested by the ED in the PACL money laundering case where Raut is a suspect for laundering the proceeds of crime (POC) generated from the now-infamous Patra Chawl redevelopment project, the sources said. Khandelwal’s bail was rejected by the special PMLA (Prevention of Money Laundering Act) court. Days after Khandelwal’s arrest, ED picked up Raut from his residence in Mumbai.

SEBI had first cracked the whip on PACL, known as Pearl Group, which has collected more than ₹60,000 crore through illegal collective investment schemes (CIS) over 18 years. PACL had raised money from the general public in the name of agriculture and real estate businesses.

PACL’s investments

So far, the ED probe has shown that Pravin Raut, a close aide of Sanjay Raut, not only diverted the Patra Chawl funds to PACL, but also had dealings with Khandelwal’s Systematix group. Reportedly, as per ED, PACL transferred ₹2,285.79 crore to Prateek Kumar, who invested ₹94.61 crore in two companies — Dhanshree Developers Pvt Ltd (DDPL) and Unicorn Global Infraproject and Estate (Unicorn). PACL also contributed ₹110.95 crore to Systematix Venture Capital Trust through its 25 front businesses in the form of optionally fully-convertible debentures and ownership in DDPL and Unicorn.

The ED filings to the court say that Khandelwal had not provided any information on the transactions with PACL. He had knowingly and directly indulged in transactions with dummy companies, through which POC were laundered.

A complex scheme

Further, the ED says that Khandelwal was instrumental in alienating the assets generated by DDPL and Unicorn from the funds of PACL investors by creating a complex web of frequent change of shareholding in these two companies; he also made a dummy company (Trinity Investments Pvt Ltd), owned by his kin Manoj Gupta, as a majority shareholder in DDPL and Unicorn, and acquired POC and projected the same as untainted.

ED has told the court that by a complex scheme, Khandelwal indirectly become the majority shareholder in the assets, worth crores, owned by DDPL and Unicorn, without contributing any substantial amount; thus he came to hold more than 60 per cent in DDPL and Unicorn, thereby generating illegal gains. This is estimated to be around ₹500-600 crore. ED has claimed in court that Khandelwal had handled the proceeds of crime of PACL in cash and given entries in lieu of the same to hide the source of tainted cash.

Shankarrao Borkar, director/promoter of DDPL, and Unicorn, Hemant Patil and Dharmesh Shah of Unicorn are also under probe, ED has told the court. DDPL received ₹101 crore from PACL, out of which ₹26.96 crore was transferred to DDPL. PACL got a 40 per cent stake in DDPL for only ₹40,000. It is stated that PACL transferred ₹2,285.79  crore to Prateek Kumar Group and Synergyone Infradevelopers, which transferred an amount of ₹94.61­ crore to DDPL and Unicorn.