The recovery of celebrity artists Tyeb Mehta and Manjit Bawa's paintings and 25 luxury brand watches during a CBI search at a D-company associate's house in Mumbai on Friday has directed the sleuths towards deeper links with DHFL's Wadhawan brothers, who have been accused of syphoning off ₹34,000 crore from a consortium of 17 banks.

The CBI raided the residence of Ajay Ramesh Nawandkar, allegedly an associate of Pakistan-based fugitive underworld don Dawood Ibrahim, at Varthman Apartments, Juhu Versova Link Road, Mumbai, following information that he was in possession of alleged proceeds of the biggest ever bank fraud. Along with his, the premises of Rebecca Dewan too were searched.

It was alleged that the promoters had acquired expensive paintings and sculptures worth about ₹55 crore using the diverted funds.

Expensive recoveries

The CBI sources said Nawandkar was found to be in possession of Tyeb Mehta's painting, which is worth ₹27 crore, and Manjit Bawa's sketch, which is worth about ₹7.5 crore. The agency seized five paintings and a sculpture from the raids at the two premises.

Some of the 25 watches recovered are serious status symbols across the globe—Rolex, Omega, Cartier, Hublot, Rado, Hermes, Versace, and Dior.

Nawandkar was also grilled by the sleuths to probe whether he was a conduit for adjusting proceeds of crimes Kapil and Neeraj Wadhawan committed. Kapil Wadhawan, chairman of DHFL, was arrested in January 2020 by the Enforcement Directorate in a case of money laundering that involved Dawood Ibrahim's trusted aide Iqbal Mirchi, who is said to have died in the UK in 2013.

D Company-DHFL link

The CBI expects to get more details on the D Company-DHFL link as, during the investigation, it was found that the promoters had allegedly diverted the funds and made investments in various entities.

The agency had registered a case on a complaint from the Union Bank of India, Industrial Finance Branch, Mumbai, against the Wadhawan duo and others on the allegations that the accused had cheated a consortium of 17 banks to the tune of over ₹34,615 crore by syphoning off loans availed from them. The DHFL was also charged with falsifying the books company and creating shell companies and false entities, which was coined as “Bandra Book Entities”.

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