DNA investigates the elaborate empire of smoke and mirrors set up by Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) chief Mayawati’s brother Anand Kumar, who is believed to have created scores of companies to funnel illegal wealth accumulated between 2007 and 2012, when Mayawati was the chief minister of Uttar Pradesh. The first of a three-part series:
While Mayawati’s fortunes rose in Uttar Pradesh, apparently so did her brother’s wealth graph. Anand Kumar has emerged as the centre of an intricate network of ghost companies through which hundreds of crores of rupees were routed during his sister’s fourth stint as chief minister, and after that as well.
Sources in the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), Income-Tax (I-T) and Enforcement Directorate (ED) revealed that they were examining close to 70 companies, all of them fake, created by Kumar to convert illegal money into legitimate wealth.
Kumar and his wife Vichiter Lata scripted their incredible story of wealth accumulation between 2007 and 2012, reveal investigations by DNA. An analysis of the money trail, ending at Kumar’s door, shows that almost Rs 1,200 crore was received by seven companies and a Limited Liability Partnership (LLP) that was opened after 2012, when the BSP was ousted by the Samajwadi Party (SP).
Political opponents have alleged that the web of fake companies created by Kumar to mask the money trail actually runs into hundreds. According to Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) general secretary Bhupendra Yadav, “It’s unfortunate that in our country there is a nexus between black money and politics. This should be stopped. The country wants a transparent and clean administration.”
None of these companies undertook any business activity. They had multiple registered addresses and kept changing their locations across India, show investigations.
In fact, the trail created by Kumar is so complex that even investigative agencies are finding it hard to navigate it, an official admitted. Kumar’s companies have, it is learnt, been repeatedly pulled up by regulators for filing false balance sheets, declaring incorrect bank balances and following shady accounting practices.
The story of DLA Infrastructure
In 2007, when Mayawati returned as chief minister, Kumar seemed to have hit a jackpot. He was operating in two ways – opening new companies or picking up stakes in other companies across the country, sources said.
One of the companies opened by Kumar was DLA Infrastructure Pvt Ltd. In the very first year of its existence, the company had assets of close to Rs 75 crore. In the following five years, it had no business activity. Kumar’s wife Vichiter Lata was the only employee and drew a salary of Rs 30 lakh per year. Its expenses amounted to a few lakhs.
Despite this, its assets grew to over Rs 100 crore by 2008. While the source of this money remains unclear, Kumar invested Rs 13.5 crore from DLA Infrastructure to buy shares in Blue Bird Hotels Pvt Ltd. Blue Bird Hotels belonged to none other than Kumar himself. It is through this company that he operates a hotel in Mussoorie. By 2013, almost Rs 124 crore flowed through DLA Infrastructure.
So how did DLA Infrastructure rake in the moolah though it had no business operations? A look at the shareholding pattern suggests that DLA Infrastructure’s capital jumped from 1.5 million shares to over 20 million shares (roughly Rs 20 crore at a nominal value of Rs 10 a share) in 2008. Pumping money into them were companies believed to be fronts. These included Ratan Jyoti Credits Ltd, a Meerut-based company, Mumbai-based Darshnik Trading Pvt Ltd and a company called Pioneer Offshore Private Ltd, whose origins are unclear.
In 2008, Pioneer Offshore almost doubled its shareholding in DLA Infrastructure while another company, Magnum Plasticiser and Allied Products, picked up 3 million shares. No details about this transaction were submitted to the regulator. The very next year, Pioneer Offshore and Magnum Plasticiser and Allied Products sold their entire stake of about 8 million shares to two companies – owned again by Kumar himself.
These included Experience Infraprojects Pvt Ltd and Diksha Windsor Computers Pvt Ltd. Serious doubts remain on why three dubious companies would invest in Kumar’s ghost venture and then sell their stake to two other entities owned by Kumar himself.
In 2012, Kumar opened V&A Ventures LLP, a possible abbreviation of the names of his wife and his own, since only the two were partners in the entity. LLPs are usually not strictly monitored by the government since they cannot raise money from the public. In what seems to have been a panic reaction to the political reversal in Uttar Pradesh, huge amounts of money seem to have been routed through the LLP.
In 2012, when Akhilesh Yadav came to power, Rs 200 crore were routed through the LLP, masquerading it as its income, sources said. This, despite the fact that V&A Ventures had virtually no business. Its registered office was in the upmarket Kasturba Gandhi Marg in central Delhi.
The following year, Rs 374 crore was routed through it. In 2014, another Rs 347 crore was shown as income. And in 2015, V&A Ventures filing its financials with the authorities. In just three years, Rs 821 crore had been funneled through this entity.
While probing a corruption case involving former Noida chief engineer Yadav Singh, the CBI found the names of several entries in his diary that referred to a man named ‘Bhai Sahab’. The CBI is investigating on the lines that this man could be Mayawati’s brother.
Surprisingly, it was the Yadav government that reinstated Singh in 2013 after sacking him over corruption charges the previous year. His reinstatement came even as a CB-CID probe was going on against him.
A detailed questionnaire on the transactions and operations was sent to Kumar and the management of these companies. Despite repeated reminders, they remained unanswered. Numerous attempts to reach out to Kumar were also unsuccessful.