The CBI has recovered paintings by Indian maestros FN Souza and SH Raza worth Rs 5.50 crore in a new round of searches linked to India’s biggest banking fraud involving DHFL, officials have said.
SH Raza’s 1956 oil on canvas painting titled ‘Village’ worth over Rs 3.50 crore and FN Souza’s untitled oil on canvas piece from 1964 worth of Rs 2 crore were among the luxury items worth Rs 12 crore seized by the agency, they said.
The central agency also seized two ultra-luxury watches from Jacob and Co and Frank Muller Geneve totaling around Rs 5 crore during searches, it said in a statement.
The CBI is conducting a custodial interrogation of former DHFL CMD Kapil Wadhawan and director Dheeraj Wadhawan over the past nine days in which it emerged they purchased these paintings from a notorious auction house in art at Fort in Mumbai, officials said.
After learning where these items were kept, the CBI conducted searches and seized the assets, they said.
Officials said the CBI also recovered gold and diamond jewellery, including bracelets and necklaces, valued at Rs 2 crore.
Nearly 20 days ago, the CBI recovered Tyeb Mehta’s painting ‘Bull’ worth over Rs 27 crore and an untitled piece of Manjit Bawa valued at over Rs 7.7 crore.
The Mehta and Bawa pieces were among a large number of paintings and sculptures, valued in total at Rs 40 crore, in cash and incriminating documents seized, the CBI said in a statement.
“During the investigation, it was discovered that the promoters misappropriated the funds and made investments in various entities. It was also alleged that the promoters acquired expensive paintings and sculptures using the misappropriated funds,” he said.
The Federal Investigation Agency had booked Dewan Housing Finance Ltd, the Wadhawan brothers and others on June 20 in a bank fraud case worth Rs 34,615 crore, making it the biggest case in this guy probed by the agency, officials said.
It was alleged that they tricked a syndicate of 17 banks led by the Union Bank of India into siphoning off bank loans of Rs 34,615 crore by siphoning them off using falsified account books of DHFL.
They allegedly used front companies and a parallel accounting system known as “Bandra Books” to siphon public funds from DHFL by disbursing money to shell entities in the form of loans to individuals.
The agency followed up on a complaint from Union Bank of India, the lead bank in the consortium which had extended credit facilities of Rs 42,871 crore to DHL between 2010 and 2018.
The bank alleged that the Wadhawans in a criminal conspiracy with others misrepresented and concealed facts, and committed a criminal breach of trust to deceive the consortium into not repaying the loans from May 2019.
The audit of DHFL’s accounting books showed that the company allegedly committed financial irregularities, embezzled funds, fabricated books and went back and forth to “create assets for Kapil and Dheeraj Wadhawan” using public funds.
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