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Former Maharashtra Official Accused of Amassing Illegal Assets Arrested in UAE

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A former deputy collector of Maharashtra Housing and Area Development Authority (MHADA) was arrested by the police in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) for a case of money laundering. Nitish Thakur, who was wanted for his links with a money laundering and a disproportionate assets case in India, was arrested in the UAE on Jan.21, Union Minister of State for Finance Shiv Pratap Shukla informed the parliament on Feb.7.

The dismissed officer’s arrest came following an Interpol notice that was issued against him in October last year, PTI reported. He was on the run for last three years, after cases were registered against him by the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) and the Enforcement Directorate (ED).

While informing the Rajya Sabha about Thakur’s arrest, Shukla said that the notice was issued on the request of the ED. The process of extradition of the former official has begun and the Enforcement Directorate has been asked to submit all documents linked to the case to the Ministry of External Affairs.

Thakur has been accused of accruing more than Rs 200 crore when he served as the deputy collector of MHADA. He was booked under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) after two FIRs were filed in 2011 and 2012 by the ED.

The Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) arrested him in 2012, accusing him of amassing assets worth over Rs 118.3 crore. He had allegedly acquired 26 properties in Mumbai and other parts of the Maharashtra. While the ACB was investigating the case, it found that Thakur had got Rs 17 crore from Dubai, following which a case was registered by the ED, alleging that Thakur attempted to launder some of his funds made through corrupt means by making transactions abroad.

After he obtained a bail in 2012, Thakur tried to flee India in April 2013 but was intercepted and held at the Mumbai international airport. He was, however, not handed over to an investigation agency, and his passport was not seized either. The Anti-Corruption Bureau got a proclamation notice against him, calling him an absconder, in June 2013, and a lookout notice was issued in March 2014.

In 2015, it surfaced that Thakur was in Dubai and had reportedly taken a 3-year temporary residentship of UAE, the Times of India reported.  The ED started the process of  issuing a Red Corner notice against him in 2016.  

Thakur allegedly illegally amassed Rs 250 crore that was given by M/s Shapoorji Pallonji Co. Ltd to a company called PRS Enterprises, owned by him.

“M/s Shapoorji Pallonji Company Limited had filed a civil suit no. 2576 of 2011 before the High Court of Bombay and obtained a decree in its favor on Oct.19, 2011 for transferring the properties acquired out of the funds given by it,” Shukla said, adding that Rs 119.43 crore worth of assets were “attached” in the case until now.