Leading Mumbai builder raided for massive provident fund

April 9th, 2008 - 12:16 am ICT by admin  

Mumbai, April 8 (IANS) The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) Tuesday swooped down on the homes and offices of leading Mumbai realty developers Niranjan Hiranandani and his brother Surendra, and three senior government officials for committing a Rs.1.68-billion fraud on the Employees Provident Fund (EPF). The government officials under the CBI scanner include Regional Provident Fund Commissioner of Maharashtra & Goa K.S. Arya, two assistant PF commissioners Rajnikant and K. Gopalan. The fourth is a retired regional PF commissioner M.R. Yadav.

According to a CBI official in Mumbai, the raids were carried out simultaneously at several residences and offices, including five group companies of the Hiranandanis. They are: the flagship Hiranandani Properties Private Ltd, Hiranandani Private Developers Ltd, Messrs. Roma Builders Pvt Ltd and Messrs. Lake Meadow Hotels & Resorts Private Ltd.

Reacting to the raids late Tuesday evening, Niranjan Hiranandani told IANS, “We have complied with the law”.

He said he and his companies had “complied with all the legal requirements pertaining to the matter. We are extending our full co-operation to the investigating agencies.”

“However, since the investigations are continuing, it would not be proper on our part to comment further in the matter,” Niranjan told IANS on phone.

The six men searched Tuesday face charges of entering into a criminal conspiracy for cheating. The CBI said that they prepared bogus bills of provident fund contributions of the five group companies although the money was not paid to the government as required under the law.

By these actions, they caused a loss of Rs.1.68 billion to the government, the CBI said in its First Information Report.

The CBI had first registered a case against the Hiranandanis, the three government servants and the retired official March 29 in connection with the fraud.

One of the group companies owed the government Rs.1.60 billion for 2003-2004, but did not deposit it.

The CBI said that the officers of the Regional Provident Fund Commissionerate had inspected the five group companies between 2004-2005 and found that they had not paid the PF contribution to the tune of Rs.80.47 million.

The companies deposited a meagre Rs.220,000 towards their PF liabilities. “Later, the matter was ’sorted out’ between the PF department and the builder. When we learnt of it, we carried out detailed investigations,” the CBI official told IANS.

Following meticulous investigations into the matter, the CBI concluded that it was fraud of massive proportions leading to the direct action Tuesday.

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