Tainted dy collector’s properties attached

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The Enforcement Directorate (ED) has attached properties valued at Rs 7 crore owned and acquired by suspended Maharashtra Housing & Area Development Authority (MHADA) deputy collector Nitish Thakur under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act this month. The central agency is expected to attach more properties in the coming months, confirmed sources.

ED, which has sweeping powers to attach properties, was advised by the state Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) to seal the properties as 'proceeds of crime'.

Among the properties attached are a row house, three commercial offices, a plot and a beach-facing hotel-spread in Mumbai suburbs and in Thakur's native Alibaug.

According to officials, the properties are valued at Rs 7 crore based on their acquisition price and are estimated to be worth at least three times more than the purchase price. The properties, owned by members of Thakur family, were acquired by Nitish since 2004 "in his business capacity" soon after he went on an unsanctioned leave from his post, according to an official.

Thakur is currently under the probe of state ACB and ED in a case of assets hugely disproportionate to his sources of income — including large stashes of cash, jewellery and luxury cars — and suspected money laundering. Allegations against him include misusing his official position as a revenue officer and floating private companies to enter into commercial transactions. The investigation got a boost this April when the officials found evidence of business transactions of Rs 258 crore between real estate giant Shapoorji Pallonji Company Ltd (SPCL) and the suspended officer.

"The probe on the land aggregation continues as we are still questioning him on each plot he and his family acquired on the pretext of acquiring it for real estate groups. These properties form the primary probe. The properties attached sprung out of the ill-gotten money and are hence considered proceeds of crime," said an official.

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