Mall owner in police scanner over DDA scam

January 19th, 2009 - 5:10 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Jan 19 (IANS) The owner of a shopping mall in south Delhi has come under the police scanner for allegedly financing the scam related to the allotment of over 5,000 Delhi Development Authority (DDA) flats.Highly place sources in Delhi Police said the mall owner gave Rs.6 million to retired DDA official M.L. Gautam and some real estate agents to apply for DDA flats in the names of real and fictitious Scheduled Tribe (ST) and Scheduled Caste (SCs) candidates.

Gautam, who is in police custody, has told his interrogators that the mall owner was the main financer of the racket.

“We are verifying details of some bank accounts. Our investigations suggest that he could be the big fish in the scandal,” a senior officer told IANS.

“The Economic Offences Wing is keeping a close watch on him. But we are treading very cautiously and will arrest him only after collecting enough evidence,” the source added.

The police sources shared the name of the financer but requested that it not be revealed until charges were formally slapped against him.

When contacted, Joint Commissioner of Police (Crime Branch) A.K. Patnaik said: “Neither can I deny nor confirm this. All I can say is that we are questioning many people.”

The scam came to light after a man who was allotted a flat in the draw of lots complained to the police that he had neither applied for a DDA flat nor had a PAN card.

Investigations revealed that a group of people conspired to buy several flats in the names of those who were eligible for the houses but could not afford it. The conspirators’ meant to sell off these flats for huge profits.

Meanwhile, police sources revealed that Gautam and three others who have been arrested - real estate agents Raju Ram and Deepak Kumar and Laxmi Narayan Meena of Jhunjhunu in Rajasthan - had spent a whopping Rs.6.5 million to submit 1,200 applications for the DDA houses in the names of STs and SCs in the “reserved category”.

Gautam, touted the kingpin of the scam, and the others managed to corner 40 flats in the allotment of Dec 16. The police have frozen his bank accounts to get clinching evidence against the mysterious ‘financier’ who the sources believe could be mall owner.

“We are verifying if Gautam received money from other people as well. It is also being probed what benefits were offered to the mall owner and how he got involved in the scam.”

Gautam had told the police that 10 more people were involved in fudging applications and manipulating the allotments of flats.

The state-run DDA builds houses that are hugely popular among the middle class in a city where land shortage has sent property prices soaring.

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