It’s not surprising that the nexus or the quid pro quo between politicians and real estate players could, once in a while, result in exposes involving the likes of Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) supremo Mayawati or Robert Vadra, the son-in-law of Congress President Sonia Gandhi…
Several Cabinet Ministers, Chief Ministers and Members of Parliament showed up at a wedding reception hosted by a builder not too long ago. Nothing wrong with it, said a real estate insider, except that the presence of so many politicians at the invitation of a realtor was a proof of the proximity they enjoyed. It’s not surprising that the nexus or the quid pro quo between politicians and real estate players could, once in a while, result in exposes involving the likes of Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) supremo Mayawati or Robert Vadra, the son-in-law of Congress President Sonia Gandhi.
A broker who specialises in cutting high-profile real estate deals in the national capital region told Business Standard there’s nothing unusual about the alleged business associations between the companies of Mayawati’s brother, Anand Kumar, and real estate players such as DLF, Unitech and Jaypee in Uttar Pradesh. “It’s commonplace for politicians to park funds in real estate companies, as it’s a safe avenue and fetches the highest return,” he pointed out.
And, if politicians need builders to park funds, realtors are keen on linkages with politicians, both in power and out of power. “The politicians add value to any deal,” according to a consultant, who’s been tracking the sector for years. For instance, they could help speed projects and in some cases, get what is illegal converted into legal for clearances. According to media reports, Kumar’s real estate business grew significantly during Mayawati’s third term as Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh (2007-12). Advances given to companies for deals that never go through are the best way to convert black money into white, the source said, adding it was a popular method in the sector. “The forever-appreciating real estate prices and the certainty of creating money out of thin air is attracting politicians to this business,” another industry source said. “It seems like a no-risk business, except for the delay in getting licences in some cases.” While some industry representatives argued that metros and areas around big cities witnessed the builder-politician nexus the most, others said the trend was not geography-specific and that it was universal, as real estate meant big money. “It’s more rampant where transparency is less,” according to an international consultant, who did not want to be named.
Advances given to companies for deals that never go through are the best way to convert black money into white, the source said, adding it was a popular method in the sector. “The forever-appreciating real estate prices and the certainty of creating money out of thin air is attracting politicians to this business,” another industry source said. “It seems like a no-risk business, except for the delay in getting licences in some cases.”
Realtors know it is very tough to do business without political backing, according to another prominent consultant known for mega deals. “Large development is difficult without the local Government’s help.” While it is a global phenomenon, the nexus is strikingly higher in the developing countries, he pointed out. In India, a large chunk of land holding is still with the Government, regulatory mechanisms are not foolproof, laws are outdated and the Government approval process is slow, the consultant explained.
While Mayawati and her brother have denied any wrongdoing, the companies named have also said there’s nothing unlawful in their dealings. DLF said: “We made a small investment of Rs 6 crore in Carnoustie, which has been disclosed in our annual
accounts of financial year 2011-12.” Carnoustie is one of the companies floated by Mayawati’s brother. Unitech said: “We wish to place on record that Unitech Group was not allotted any land, project or FSI (floor space index)/ land rights in Uttar Pradesh during the tenure of the BSP-led Government between 2007-12.” While pointing out that “it’s our normal business to develop real estate and to deal with companies holding real estate”, Unitech added: “Our business association with Carnoustie Group is relating to real estate projects in Kochi, Goa, Delhi and Gangtok, in line with our business strategy of pan-India presence, and consultancy services for development of our golf course projects.” The company added all its investments were fully disclosed and were in compliance with the laws of the country. The Jaypee group could not be reached for comment.
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has sought a thorough probe into the issue. “A Robert Vadra-style copy book practice of receiving advances for unspecified services from third parties is followed by a loss- making company owned by Anand Kumar,” said a senior BJP leader.
Source : The Business Standard
Cobrapost’s Shocking Mega Expose
Major Indian private sector banks, HDFC Bank, ICICI Bank and Axis Bank, are blatantly running a huge nation-wide money laundering racket. A Cobrapost pan-India undercover investigation spanning several months, recently unearthed a vast, nation-wide money laundering racket being run by HDFC Bank, ICICI Bank and Axis Bank. The brazen criminal activity by these banks is channelising vast amounts of black money into the regular banking system as laundered white money. The investigation, conducted across dozens and dozens of branches of these banks and their insurance affiliates, across all five zones of the country, revealed these shocking facts that these money laundering practices are part of a standard set of procedures within these banks and a variety of options for laundering ill-gotten cash are being offered brazenly. Operation Red Spider makes it clear that the agencies entrusted under law to have an oversight over the banks, namely, the RBI, the Income Tax Department, Directorate of Revenue Intelligence, the Enforcement Directorate and various economic offences wings, have been grossly inefficient in unearthing misconduct on the part of the banks. These banks can be called criminal syndicates for what their managements are willing to do to improve the bank’s bottom line. Mr. Chidambaram, our Finance Minister, has been speaking extensively about the cancer of money laundering and tax evasion in our system. The onus is now on the Government to act swiftly, and get its investigative and enforcement agencies, including the CBI, to launch an investigation without even a day’s delay. Any delay will result in evidence like incriminating emails being destroyed (there are bank officials who have been caught on tape, saying that they routinely email seniors for approval/information on these illegal transactions), and cash being removed from lockers, customer identities being altered, etc. The whole country has been looking at the Swiss banks with suspicion as being the main repositories of black money belonging to Indian residents.
As this path-breaking Cobrapost investigation starkly reveals, it is our very own, home-grown Indian banks that are the primary culprits in this giant racket.