The Mumbai Police has arrested the father-son promoters of Housing Development and Infrastructure Limited (HDIL) after they were accused of defaulting on a loan of Rs 6,500 crore owed to the crisis-hit Punjab and Maharashtra Cooperative Bank. The company owned by Rakesh Kumar Wadhawan and his son Sarang Wadhawan reportedly sponsored Kolkata Knight Riders, an IPL cricket team owned by Bollywood actor Shah Rukh Khan, was the organiser of a glorious Mumbai fashion event, HDIL Couture Week India and also had stakes in Adhikari Brothers’ firms and Hindi news channel Live India.
Both the father-son duo lived flashy lifestyles and often flaunted their wealth by driving expensive cars and hanging out with Mumbai’s who’s who. Their headquarter was based in Mumbai’s Andheri (East), while they had an expensive residence in the posh Andheri (West) area, a neighbourhood, which is home to several top Bollywood names such as Salman Khan, Shah Rukh Khan and Sachin Tendulkar.
Both the Wadhawans will now have to spend in the police lock-up until 9 October. They are accused of defrauding the PMC of loans worth Rs 6,500 crore that they took from the bank using fraudulent means. According to some reports, the Wadhawans created 21,000 fake accounts to camouflage the loans from the PMC bank, which allegedly continued to look the other way despite them routinely defaulting on loan repayments. The bank is also accused of keeping the RBI and auditors in the dark by hiding the matter in its annual reports. The loan issued to Wadhawan’s company, now bankrupt, amounted to 75% of the bank’s total loan book.
On Friday, the Economic Offences Wing of the Mumbai police arrested the suspended Managing Director of HDIL, Joy Thomas, in connection with the ₹4,355 crore cheating case at the bank. A report by news agency PTI said that Thomas was summoned to the EOW office at the city police headquarters and arrested after questioning on Friday.
The EOW has already confiscated properties worth Rs 3,500 crore belonging to the Wadhawans during its investigations. Meanwhile, the RBI has twice increased the withdrawal limits for the PMC customers, who have their money deposited in the crisis-ridden bank. The federal bank first increased the limit from Rs 1,000 to Rs 10,000 before settling at Rs 25,000 per customer.
Waryam Singh, the head of the PMC bank, is another shady character in the whole crisis. He’s accused of obliging the Wadhawans’ requests for repeated loans. Singh, according to The Economic Times, virtually ran Broadcast Initiative Pvt Limited, which managed Live India news channel.
Waryam Singh convinced Wadhawans to take over Live India TV channel to wield clout over politicians in the government. “It was Waryam Singh who prompted Wadhawan to takeover Broadcast Initiatives Ltd CN, the company which owned a Hindi (national) news channel run by Bollywood producers Adhikari brothers. The sole aim of setting up the news channel was to liaison with the people in power,” a former journalist working for Live India Hindi TV news channel was quoted as saying.
Singh often worked as a go-between person to facilitate the Wadhawans’ meetings with politicians and ministers. He flew a Falcon 2000 jet, manufactured by Dassault Aviation, that was allegedly purchased by one of his shady companies.