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Home > Mumbai > Mumbai News > Article > Mumbai House of cards probe widens

Mumbai: House of cards probe widens

Updated on: 11 August,2023 06:56 AM IST  |  Mumbai
Diwakar Sharma , Shirish Vaktania | diwakar.sharma@mid-day.com mailbag@mid-day.com

Even as the police register more FIRs against seven builders, case is expected to be transferred to the Economic Offences Wing; meanwhile, man claims his ‘innocent’ stamp-maker father has been trapped in the scam

Mumbai: House of cards probe widens

Vinayak Apartments was illegally built by one of the seven builders booked on Wednesday night

AMID talks that the Economic Offences Wing will take over the Rs 3,000-crore housing scam case, the Virar police have filed three different FIRs against seven builders for unauthorised constructions using fake documents. Meanwhile, the son of an accused in the Rs 3,000-crore scam case claims his father, a maker of rubber stamps, is innocent.
 
The three new FIRs were filed on Wednesday night for the construction of three residential societies without required permissions—Omkar, Vinayak and Anandi Villa, sources said. However, no fresh arrests have been made yet.


Rajesh Naik, the stamp-maker. He is an accused in the Rs 3,000-cr housing scam case. Pics/Hanif PatelRajesh Naik, the stamp-maker. He is an accused in the Rs 3,000-cr housing scam case. Pics/Hanif Patel


Anandi Villa


The Virar police have booked Anandi Villa owner and developers Arun Chintaman Patil and Rambhau Patil for using fake government documents. The complaint was filed by Vinod Gotmare, 42, the chief clerk at the Encroachment Department of the Vasai Virar City Municipal Corporation (VVCMC).

They constructed two six-storey wings, comprising 42 flats and one shop, and sold them to unsuspecting buyers, they added. Cops said the VVCMC on December 26, 2018, gave the builder a notice under the Maharashtra Regional and Town Planning (MRTP) Act, 1966 for the demolition of the buildings. But, no action was taken since.

Vinayak Apts

The police have booked two individuals and a firm for the construction of the five-storey Vinayak Apartments, which has 39 flats, two shops and one hospital. They were also issued a notice under the MRTP Act on April 22 last year, cops said.

Sakuntala and Ramchandra Naik, parents of Rajesh, an accused in the Rs 3,000-cr housing scam case
Sakuntala and Ramchandra Naik, parents of Rajesh, an accused in the Rs 3,000-cr housing scam case

The alleged accused are—Chandrakant Yashwant Patil, the land owner; M Rajhans Enterprises, the developer firm; Mohan Mhatre, the firm’s owner. The developers allegedly used forged documents of CIDCO and the Town Planning Authority, including a letter from the VVCMC, police said.

Omkar Apts

Peelibai Bistur Patil, the owner of the land at Fulpada in Virar East, and developer Pravin Prabhakar Patil, who owns Vitthu Patil developers, have been booked for erecting four-storey Omkar Apartments with 32 flats. They had been issued a notice on April 20 last year. They did not obtain any permission to construct the building. VVCMC Joint CP Ajay Chaufekar is the complainant in the two other FIRs.

EOW to take over case

A highly placed source at Virar police told mid-day that the first FIR, involving Prashant Madhukar Patil and his accomplices, is likely to be transferred to the Economic Offences Wing (EOW) of the Mira Bhayandar Vasai Virar (MBVV) police, as “the accused did not pay government taxes to secure RERA order, thus causing heavy loss to the revenue department”.

Omkar Apartments (in pic) along with two others were built using fake documents, according to the police. Pics/Hanif Patel
Omkar Apartments (in pic) along with two others were built using fake documents, according to the police. Pics/Hanif Patel

“Collectorate officials in Thane and Palghar districts are having sleepless nights because of this multi-crore housing scam. “Also, as they sold housing units under Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana, many homebuyers got the subsidy of R2.5 lakh. So, these scammers also caused loss to the PMO,” the source added.

The source said, “Although, we are still calculating the total loss to the government exchequer, the estimated loss would not be less than R400 crore, because the Patil and his gang did not” pay any tax to the government. Police suspect Patil also laundered money he made scamming both the people and the government officials.

Cops to visit Patil hometown

Another officer said a team will visit Patil’s hometown at Kudal taluka in Sindhudurg district “to further widen our investigation.” Senior Inspector, Virar police, Rajendra Kamble said, “A team of seven officers are investigating this case. Civic officials will also be questioned.” Another source said that Ankita Patil, the wife of mastermind Patil, could be made a co-accused in this case, “as the money was also transferred to a bank account, whose co-owner is Ankita Patil.”

‘Father falsely implicated’

Rajesh Naik, one of the four alleged accomplices of Patil, is innocent, claimed his son Sairaj Naik, a resident of Umrale village in Nalasopara West. The 53-year-old rubber stamp maker was approached by Patil and his co-accused Dilip Anant Adkhale with fake letterheads, police have learnt. “When government officials had failed to detect the scam, then how could my father, a mere stamp-maker, have figured out that the letters were fake?” asked Sairaj, 26.

“This is our family business and my father has been making rubber stamps since decades. There is not a single case against his name. We have a long list of clientele who order from various industrial areas of Andheri MIDC and Goregaon, and police stations in Nalasopara, Virar, Arnala, etc.,” said Sairaj, who works in an automobile firm.

Naik also had contacts with photocopy centres in Vasai-Virar and they would suggest his name to customers looking for rubber stamps. “We charge only R35. We need to have one letterhead undersigned by the department concerned if the rubber stamp is being made for that government body,” he added.

According to the son, Patil had approached Rajesh through one of the photocopy centres. “They had sent a letterhead undersigned by a civic official. They got three rubber stamps made and paid Rs 105. My father has been arrested for accepting a rightful payment of R105. My father has been falsely implicated and was arrested even though he was cooperating in the investigation,” Sairaj added.

The investigators are now thinking of making Rajesh, who is imprisoned in Thane jail along with other scammers, a witness in this case. Sairaj, after his father’s arrest, is worried about repaying their housing loan of Rs 40 lakh.

“How will I repay the housing loan? The cops have also confiscated the entire set-up which my grandfather had installed decades ago. All the machinery has been seized and the family business has come to a standstill. I am now running from pillar to post to secure bail for my father. My grandparents are in their 80s. My mother has not been keeping well since my father’s arrest.”

Another witness

Police sources said a photocopy centre’s owner has been made a witness in this case. “Adhkale had given him two letterheads in October and November last year,” they added. Patil and gang got stamps made from Devendra Keshav Majhi, too, cops said. “Majhi is a history sheeter, who is admitted at a civic hospital in Vasai. He is good at making false PAN and Aadhaar cards,” a source said. 

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