Fraud-Accused DHFL Promoters Detained For Violating Lockdown, Spark Political Controversy

Maharashtra principal sectary (home) Amitabh Gupta has been put on leave, as the state government probes a letter he allegedly gave the Wadhawans to help them travel from Khandala to Mahabaleshwar.

New Delhi: The promoters of crisis-hit Dewan Housing Finance Ltd (DHFL), who are under investigation on charges of financial fraud, were detained at Mahabaleshwar in Maharashtra’s Satara district for violating prohibitory orders amid the COVID-19 lockdown.

Multiple media reports said that local police found Dheeraj Wadhawan and Kapil Wadhawan and 20 other people, including many members of the Wadhawan family, at a Mahabaleshwar farmhouse.

India’s investigative authorities have been searching for the DHFL promoters, who have allegedly been untraceable, for over three weeks now.

The Wadhawans along with their beleaguered NBFC are co-accused in a cheating and money laundering case registered against Yes Bank co-founder, Rana Kapoor.

“Post the registration of the FIR by the CBI against Kapoor and Wadhawans on March 8, the agency asked the Wadhawan brothers to join the probe. They were not in their offices or residence when the searches were conducted. Subsequently it was reliably learnt that they had fled to Mahabaleshwar and since then, they have been changing locations. They were last tracked to Delhi,” an Economic Times report, which was published on March 21, noted.

On Thursday evening, Maharashtra home minister Anil Deshmukh said that a probe will be conducted into the matter.

“Will probe how the 23 members of the Wadhawan family got permission to travel from Khandala to Mahabaleshwar,” Deshmukh tweeted.

The home minister’s response apparently came in response to allegations that the Wadhawans were travelling with a letter provided to them by Maharashtra principal secretary (home) Amitabh Gupta.

A copy of this letter, which The Wire has not independently verified, was tweeted out by a BJP MLA on Thursday evening.

A copy of the letter allegedly given by Gupta to the Wadhawan brothers.

At 2 am on Friday, Deshmukh responded to these allegations, saying that Gupta had been sent on “compulsory leave with immediate effect” until a probe had been completed.

On March 16, the Enforcement Directorate had issued fresh summons to the Wadhawans, asking them to appear before the agency on March 17.

At the time, the DHFL promoters had skipped the summons, citing the COVID-19 pandemic for their non-appearance in the money laundering probe. The Wadhawans, who have denied any wrongdoing in their dealings with Yes Bank, had said, “Health is a priority”.