Kochi: The central agencies are now after controversial NRI businessman Faris Abubaker whose political nexus and shady dealings have been under scrutiny for long.
The Enforcement Directorate (ED) and the Income-Tax (IT) Department sleuths are collecting vital evidences against Faris after a preliminary probe revealed he had invested a huge sum of black money in the real estate sector.
The ED action comes close on the heels of the I-T officials conducting searches at his houses and offices on the basis of a report of its intelligence wing. The search exercise continued yesterday too, with the I-T officials inspecting his house at Nandi in Koyilandy, following a similar raid on Monday.
The I-T sleuths first initiated the probe against him following a secret information that unaccounted money worth Rs 100 crore reached Faris’ real estate companies recently. The officials then held simultaneous inspections in Chennai, Kochi, Kozhikode, Mumbai, Bengaluru and New Delhi. Their initial assessment is that the money has been smuggled into Kochi via hawala rackets to invest in an under-construction apartment complex. The I-T sleuths held searches at the offices of the construction company in Kochi. They also inspected various centres in Chennai connected to Faris for the second day yesterday.
The Chennai and Kochi units of the I-T department and the Kochi, Kozhikode units of the ED are conducting the probes into the financial dealings of Faris.
I-T raids on real estate dealers
The I-T officials conducted searches at various institutions in Kochi, owned by building contractors, property developers, and middlemen, among others who have dealings with Faris. They are also set to record the statements of certain persons connected with the film industry who have business relationship with Faris, sources said.
The I-T sleuths conducted searches at a Chilavanoor flat owned by a native of Pilakandy, Kannur, who has acted as Faris’ middleman for many years. They seized vital documents and sealed the flat.
The Pilakandy native owns flats in all apartment projects of a Chilavanoor-based building constructor across Kerala. The officials suspect that he is a benami of Faris. The IT raids, which started on Monday evening, lasted till 7 pm yesterday.
Both the ED and the I-T officials also conducted raids at the house of Nadira Suresh, the Thiruvananthapuram District Congress Committee secretary, at Mannanthala. The inspections are aimed at unearthing information regarding the financial dealings of Suresh Kumar, Nadira’s husband, sources said.
Suresh Kumar is an employee of one of the companies owned by Faris Abubaker.
Documents point to huge investments, hawala
The documents seized include those relating to the huge investments made by Faris in numerous wetlands, pokkali fields, mangroves and fish farms based in Kochi. Faris used to obtain certificates showing such fields (nilam) as dry lands by influencing revenue officials and local bodies, before handing over the same to big building constructors.