The Mumbai police are probing lapses in the renewal of weapons license to the fugitive economic offender, Topsgrup CMD Rahul Nanda. The police have said that Nanda, while renewing his license with them, hid facts about surrendering his Indian citizenship and acquiring a British passport and citizenship by investment in 2014. He has had a weapons license since 1996.
Nanda is suspected to be hiding in Oman. His Indian and British mobile phones were switched off and emails from the Free Press Journal remained unanswered.
The Enforcement Directorate (ED) had stumbled on the copies of Nanda’s British passport and arms license issued by the Mumbai police during raids on his Four Bungalows’ residence and Goregaon offices of Topsgrup. The ED was investigating money laundering of loans by the company’s subsidiaries – Topsgrup Security BV in the Netherlands and Topsgrup Security, UK – for the maintenance of his UK properties, Manor House and Huntergate House.
The ED informed the Mumbai police about the illegal renewal of his weapons license. “A detailed inquiry is needed on how an absconding person got an arms license renewed despite the fact the local police station has to conduct a detailed verification,” said former senior police officer turned lawyer YP Singh.
While police officials were tight-lipped about the license renewal without mandatory verification of documents and current residence status, Joint Commissioner of Police (administration) Rajkumar Vhatkar has asked for an explanation from the Oshiwara police.
Last week, the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) court ordered a proclamation against Nanda and his wife Rasshi, directing the couple to appear before the court within 30 days of the publication of the proclamation.
The ED had officials told the PMLA court that Nanda siphoned Rs 186 crore from Topsgrup companies through remittances to his personal accounts and accounts of friends and family. As per the ED, records showed deposits from Topsgrup to Nanda’s personal accounts in the UK and “gift deeds” made by the company promoter to transfer amounts to offshore accounts through “unrelated persons and companies. The agency has told the court that these loans were written off the books.
Special public prosecutor Kavita Patil informed the court that the Oshiwara police had filed a report about issuing non-bailable warrants against the absconding couple. Patil had pointed out that the police went to execute the warrants at Nanda Villa, Lokhandwala Complex, Andheri, but found out that the premises were already sealed by the ED. The special court took note of the fact that the ED, too, tried to execute the non-bailable warrants against Nanda and his wife, but neither of them were to be found on their known address.
Rahul Nanda is also accused of allegedly forming benami company Tops Force (controlled by his son-in-law) whose clients were diverted to his own company Tops Security to avoid the latter’s accumulated statutory dues. Topsgrup has earlier been accused of cheating the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority.
Indian banks have also initiated National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) proceedings against Topsgrup Services under section 7 of the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (IBC) for defaulting on payment of loan worth Rs 134 crore.