New Delhi, Apr 6: The Supreme Court today issued notices to the Centre and RBI on a petition seeking probe into the alleged money laundering by the trustees of Mumbai's Lilawati Hospital.
A bench comprising Justices B Sudershan Reddy and S S Nijjar also sought response from the Minstry of Corporate Affairs, Enforcement Directorate, Central Board of Direct taxes and SEBI on a plea seeking investigation by appropriate agencies into the alleged tax evasion and money laundering by the trustees of the Lilawati Hospital.
The petition filed by Delhi resident Harsh Raghuvanshi has sought investigation into the alleged siphoning of funds by the trustees Prabodh Mehta, Rashmi Mehta, Chetan Mehta and Bhavin Mehta.
Senior Advocate Ram Jethmalani appearing for Raghuvanshi submitted that the notice should be issued and all the respondents should be called upon to disclose all facts which have come to their knowledge and steps taken by them against the trustees.
The bench tagged the petition with that of a petition filed by Ram Jethmalani and others in which direction has been sought for bringing back the black money stashed by Indians in banks abroad.
In the present petition also it has been alleged that the Mehtas have siphoned out money from the hospital and through the hawala route it has been deposited in banks abroad including Mauritius.
It has been alleged that the money has been deposited in Liechtenstein Bank.
Raghuvanshi, a practising lawyer, in his petition said there were several media reports suggesting existence of ample evidence to substantiate that banking institutions like ING Vyasa, IndusInd Bank and charitable trusts like Lilavati Hospital may have become a money laundering vehicle.
The petition quoted media reports to explain the modus operandi adopted by the Mehtas' in siphoning the money from Lilavati Hospital to several foreign banks from where the money is eventually laundered back by them through hawala route to India using complex web of companies which are directly or indirectly controlled by them.
The petitioner alleged that probe by some media groups indicated that Mehtas' are having powerful links not just with politicians but also with underworld including Dawood Ibrahim.
The petition said that SEBI guidelines for mutual funds and the Companies Act clearly mandates that individuals convicted of offences cannot hold office of directors and gave example of Prabodh Mehta, who was convicted by a Belgium court and sentenced for six months for money laundering, fraud and forgery in connection with diamond business.
The petitioner claimed that since 2002 to 2010, Mehtas' through bogus and inflated bills are purchasing medicines, pharmaceuticals and surgical equipment worth Rs 70-80 crore every year through more than 400 small medical shops out of which 250 of them are situated in slums of Dharavi.
"In the last eight years, on a total purchase of over Rs 500 crore, Mehtas' have siphoned off at least Rs 250 crores through inflated and bogus bills," the petition claimed. PTI