Thousands of crores stay uncollected as ED fails to auction impounded houses

Thousands of crores stay uncollected as ED fails to auction impounded houses

By KANISHKA SINGH | NEW DELHI | 22 November, 2015
The Enforcement Directorate is using an impounded bungalow worth Rs 500 crore at a prime location in Lutyens’ Delhi to train its recruits, carry out daily official activities, apart from holding Diwali and other such parties, instead of auctioning it off, as is common practice. The attached property at 11A Prithviraj Road, is sprawled over 6,796 sq ft, has six king-sized fully furnished bedrooms, a huge garden, 24 hours’ security, and a staff dedicated to landscaping, catering, cleaning and similar activities. The value of the property is according to prevailing circle rates. At least 1,200 similar properties are peppered across the country.
“This property (11A, Prithviraj Road) is one of the many properties located in different parts of the country that the ED has been using for official purposes. We have created a Management of Attached Property Rules recently. Yes, we use the properties for official purposes, including training of officers and recruits,” said a joint director of the department, requesting anonymity.
“Although the first action we consider is auctioning, but there are over 1,200 properties that have been attached by the ED under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act in the last few years. Usage of this kind is to be the last resort in the management of the attached properties. But maintaining these properties is so expensive that it’s not practical to let them stay unused. They can be put to departmental use. Maintaining them is a tedious task. Auctioning is also not easy, although we sold many attached properties in May this year,” the official said.
“We hold 15-day training exercises for officers and recruits in the bungalow. Also, we have had retirement parties, Diwali celebrations and Christmas parties. It’s a luxurious workplace and we thoroughly enjoy it,” another official said.
The ED seized the Prithviraj Road property in April 2013. Armed with an eviction order, a team comprising the Enforcement Directorate and Delhi police raided the bungalow on 18 April 2013, only to find one Arun Kumar Mishra occupying the property with a score of expensive cars. Mishra was already facing several charges of corruption and money laundering. Mishra had earlier claimed in his defence that he was not the actual owner of the property and that it had been leased to a UP-based lawyer, Amrita Rai. An inquiry revealed that Mishra had bought the property in a benaami transaction.
The Prevention of Money Laundering Act, 2003, permits confiscation of assets (movable and immovable) acquired through unlawful means. Apparently, Mishra had paid Rs 23.26 crore for the property when he bought it in 2007. He bought the property in the name of Ajantha Developers, which is registered in Kolkata.
Sources in the ED say that the company was registered in the name of Mishra’s servant, who is absconding. Mishra had bought the property from Ravinder Taneja & Atma Gyan Trust. Delhi-based Anil Vaid, who lives in the posh south Delhi locality of Panchsheel Park acted as the broker in the deal and received Rs 21 lakh and service tax from Taneja. Prithviraj Road has some of the most expensive real estate in the national capital, with a minimum circle rate of over Rs 500,000 per sq ft.

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