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 Governor sanctions Ansari's prosecution

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PostSubject: Governor sanctions Ansari's prosecution   Thu Dec 31, 2009 4:32 pm

Multi-crore Sidhra township scam
Governor sanctions Ansari's prosecution

Excelsior Correspondent

JAMMU, June 1: In a setback to the ruling People’s Democratic Party (PDP), Governor Lt Gen (Retd) S K Sinha today gave nod to prosecution of former Minister and senior PDP leader Moulvi Iftikhar Hussain Ansari in the multi-crore Sidhra township scam.

"Governor accorded sanction to the prosecution of Ansari in Sidhra satellite township scam in 1997, as probe Commission headed by the then Vigilance Commissioner R V Raju had indicted him in kick-off. The State Government has received the prosecution sanction", official sources said.

Ansari, who was the Housing and Urban Development Minister in 1997, was indicted by a one man Commission headed by then Vigilance Commissioner R V Raju who probed Sidhra township scam.

The Commission in its report submitted to the Government indicted Ansari, who was tasked to setup up Rs 500 crore satellite township at Sidhra in the outskirts of Jammu city in 1997, of taking Rs 60.25 lakh kickbacks by M/s Infrastructure Projects Private Limited (IPPL), New Delhi.

Soon after indictment by the Commission, then Chief Minister Dr Farooq Abdullah dropped Ansari, who has since changed loyalties to PDP in 2003. Ansari is currently holding PDP vice president post.

The Commission report had clearly indicted Ansari for charging kickbacks worth Rs 60.25 lakh from Alchemy Enterprises, a bogus firm floated by the Directors of IPPL.

Jayant Bhutta, one of the Directors of IPPL, had also confessed in his statement recorded during his custodial interrogation by Vigilance that he had paid Rs 60.25 lakh worth kickbacks to Ansari to get the bank guarantees released without sanctioning any installment of loan to JDA as agreed under the agreement for development of Sidhra colony.

Ansari, who headed a Board of Directors of Jammu Development Authority (JDA) on July 19, 1997, approved the project in favour of IPPL with an equity share of Rs 150 crores to be paid to JDA.

However, IPPL had committed frauds by using JDA’s name to get bank guarantees amounting to Rs 4.75 crores from Jammu and Kashmir Bank and later raised huge amount from ICICI Bank and other institutions on the bank guarantee and JDA’s name.

In 1999, another one-man Commission headed by retired High Court Judge K K Gupta was appointed by the Farooq Abdullah Government to have fresh review of the case.

Justice Gupta Commission report, which was tabled in the State Assembly in March 2002 exonerated Ansari and his family in the case.

RV Raju Commission report on whose basis the prosecution sanction has been accord, had pointed out that a number of sensitive documents seized from the offices of IPPL and M/s Alchemy Enterprises necessitated the questioning of Ansari and his close relatives besides his the then Private Secretary.

The report said custodial interrogation statement of Jayant Bhutta, a Director of IPPL, recorded under 27 Evidence Act, clearly stated that Bhutta paid Rs 60.25 lakhs to Ansari through the business concern of his family members and brothers known as M/S Classic Inn, Delhi as demanded by him (Ansari) through cheques issued from the account of his proprietorship concern M/S Alchemy Enterprises Delhi.

Scrutiny of connected bank documents revealed that Rs 49.25 lakhs had been paid by cheques in the name of M/S Classic Inn, Delhi while the remaining amount of Rs 11 lakhs was paid to Ansari in cash by Jayant Bhutta.

Infact, these cheques were paid in favour of M/S Classic Inn, which is a partnership firm of Ansari and his relatives. Their names are Imran Raza and Irfan Raza sons of Iftikhar Hussain Ansari, Sakeena Hussain wife of Syeed Arshad Hussain, Qumail Ansari son of Abid Hussain Ansari, Ms Nazia daughter of Abid Hussain Ansari, Ms Zehra daughter of Amjad Abbas Ansari and Mohd alias Ali son of Mohd Amjad Abbas Ansari.

M/S Classic Inn had an account in the Oriental Bank of Commerce, Mahipalpur, New Delhi. The report said investigations disclosed that proceeds of the cheques for Rs 49.25 lakhs issued by Jayant Bhutta were credited into this account. Further, the account of M/S Classic Inn was opened in Oriental Bank on 17.2.1998 and the first cheque issued by Jayant Bhutta favouring Ansari’s firm is dated 23.2.1998. This is a strong piece of circumstantial evidence to show that this account was opened to receive the kickbacks, the spokesman said.

Report said M/S Classic Inn, in order to create some confusion, made a record that they have returned more than Rs two lakh to M/S Alchemy Enterprises from January 1999 to July 1999 after registration of the case against IPPL and others. This was, however, done after the investigations had established the fraud.

Investigation conducted by the Crime Branch had revealed that during March 1997, a firm M/s Infrastructure Projects Pvt Ltd (IPPL), New Delhi was holding discussions with the JDA for advancing the latter a loan of Rs 150 crores in three equal instalments for development of a Satellite Town Project at Sidhra, Jammu. Jayant Bhutta, ML Kalra and N Trehan were representing the said private firm.

Later, sometime in July, even before the JDA entered into a formal understanding with the private firm, J&K Bank issued a so-called bank guarantee of Rs 4.75 crores favouring M/s IPPL, ostensibly to cover the annual interest on the first instalment of Rs 50 crores of the above loan. As mentioned, no formal agreement had been entered into at this stage by the JDA with M/s IPPL and no advance had been paid by M/s IPPL to the JDA. Therefore, there was no case for giving any interest or guarantee for that interest.

Report had revealed that this was decided in a meeting between the Chairman of the JDA (Minister of Housing and Urban Development Moulvi Iftikhar Ansari), Jayant Bhutta, Director M/s IPPL and the Chairman J&K Bank on 18.7.1997. The so-called bank guarantee was issued on 23.7.1997. The format of the so called bank guarantee was provided by Jayant Bhutta. The Vice Chairman of the JDA was also present at this meeting. The matter was put up before the Board of Directors of JDA a month later as per proceedings.

Report had found that M/s IPPL was registered as a company only in May 1997 with a capital of only Rs 5 lacs. This verification report was suppressed in J&K Bank for a period of one and half months.
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