Amid Assembly polls in Maharashtra, the Enforcement Directorate's (ED) crackdown on the aides of late drug kingpin Iqbal Mirchi, who was a leading member of D-company, can set off trouble for big political guns, including a former Civil Aviation Minister.
The ED officials are questioning two aides of Mirchi on their links with politicians and builders, who were allegedly involved in transaction of prime properties reportedly belonging to D-company.
According to a senior ED official, Mirchi's aides Haroun Yusuf and Ranjit Singh Bindra were involved in the sale of three prime properties, allegedly owned by Mirchi, who died in 2013. These buildings are Rabia Mansion, Mariam Lodge and Sea View -- all located in the posh Worli area, here.
According to initial investigations, in the mid-1980s the properties were purchased by underworld don Dawood Ibrahim using a trust as a front. Later, the trust transferred the properties to Mirchi, who had shifted his base to the UK.
According to ED sources, Bindra, a millionaire property dealer, is known for his links in the political and corporate circles. While Bindra approached the high and mighty, it was Yusuf who facilitated money transactions -- mainly through hawala.
Yusuf was backed by D-company to take over as chairman of the Sir Mohd Yusuf Trust, the actual owner of buildings as shown in the registry documents. The deals were carried in layers to camouflage Mirchi's ownership.
As per the ED findings, the properties were purchased through the Dawood-Mirchi group's crime proceeds.
The properties were transferred in an illegal manner to Mirchi in early 1990s, sources said. During the Mumbai serial blast probe, these properties were identified with D-company and were attached.
However, in 2005, the court quashed the order on the grounds that actual owner of the properties was neither Mirchi or Dawood, but the Sir Mohd Yusuf Trust. After a few years, when the dust settled over the ownership controversy, Mirchi nominated one Humayun as attorney to negotiate the deal with builders.
Subsequently, the buildings were sold to different realty firms and builders who later sold them to another company, which was backed by a top politician.
Sources in ED said names of politicians, corporate honchos and a former Civil Aviation Minister had surfaced in connection with the case. However, their direct involvement in the deal couldn't be corroborated, at the moment.
According to investigations, most deals were done by 2010 when Mirchi was alive. The three buildings were sold for around Rs 225 crore. Of this, only Rs 60 crore was paid to Humayun, Mirchi's attorney, and the rest was sent to Dubai through hawala channels.
Sources said Mirchi bought a five-star hotel in Dubai of the proceeds. After gathering more evidence, the ED is contemplating to attach the property under new laws.