Hasan Ali Khan , the Pune-based realtor and black money launderer now in the Enforcement Directorate’s net, has thrived on the basis of a wide and extensive international network. Besides having close links with Adnan Khashogi , the Saudi arms dealer, it has now been revealed that Khan has strong ties with Suleiman Kerimov , the Russian tycoon ranked at No. 119 in the Forbes’ list of world billionaires.
The custodial interrogation of Khan and his close associate, the Kolkata-based businessman Kashinath Tapuria, has now led the ED to turn its gaze on their nexus with Kerimov. Both Khan and Tapuria are said to be quite pally with the Russian businessman. Khan, in fact, is said to have diverted $3 billion on behalf of Kerimov.
With a net worth of $7.8 billion (as on March, 2011), Kerimov is among the richest persons in the world, with interests in sectors ranging from oil to real estate. Kerimov was described by Forbes as an “investor in distressed companies, who sold nearly all his Russian assets, including shares in Gazprom, government-owned Sberbank and a massive housing development in suburban Moscow prior to Russia’s 2008 financial meltdown.”
The money, according to the prestigious journal, allowed Kerimov “to settle his debts and also to purchase stakes in a few European banks including Royal Bank of Scotland and Fortis as well as Russia’s largest gold mining outfit, Polyus Gold. He has also invested in real estate company PIK.” “Most recently, in summer 2010, Kerimov together with fellow billionaires Alexander Nesis and Filaret Galchev bought Dmitry Rybolovlev’s controlling stake in Uralkali, the biggest producer of potassium fertilisers in Russia. For repayment of his share, he gave Rybolovlev a part of his stake in Polyus Gold.
In autumn 2006 he was seriously injured in a car accident after losing control of a Ferrari Enzo on the Promenade des Anglais in Nice. Recovery was prolonged and painful.He reportedly owns three planes and two yachts,” the journal added. With such powerful and rich people on his friends’ list, Khan, it is learnt, made a fortune by trafficking in their money through both legal and illegal channels worldwide. By moving the funds of Kerimov and Khashogi alone, the Khan-Tapuria duo is learnt to have earned commission to the tune of a staggering $ 5-10 million. The ED has reasons to believe a large part of this amount was funnelled into India through both legal and extra-legal routes, and used to fund their lavish lifestyles. While a chunk of this amount was brought into India through the hawala route, the remaining part was sought to be explained away by describing them as “commissions” earned by them by offering their “services” abroad.
But both Khan and Tapuria have failed to explain what these services were, raising more doubts about the source of their wealth. Both Khan and Tapuria are presently in judicial custody. Tapuria was arrested by the Directorate last month on the basis of the information provided by the Pune-based stud farm owner. Economic Times