HC turns down discharge plea of Wasankar’s CA

Source: The Hitavada      Date: 09 Nov 2018 10:42:03


Staff Reporter,

The Mumbai-based Chartered Accountant has been charged with diverting Rs 23 crore from Wasankar’s firm to various disputed transactions

Nagpur bench of Bombay High Court has rejected to discharge a Mumbai based Chartered Accountant (CA) Parag Hangekar handling affairs of Wasankar Wealth Management Private Limited (WWMPL). The High Court found no substance in claim made by Hangekar about his non-involvement in siphoning of the money. On the contrary, the High Court after perusing statements of other co-accused, noted that applicant CA himself had played a leading role to invest money of Wasankar and his firm.

The Economic Offences Wing (EoW) had named Hangekar as an accused in Wasankar scam after some Mumbai-based builders were identified as beneficiaries of Wasankar’s firm.
According to the prosecution, Hangekar was involved in siphoning of a huge sum of Rs 23.08 crore and diverted the money to various firms of his clients.

Citing statements of Naresh Chandan, Dimple Kanungo and Dheeraj Shah, the EoW claimed that money collected from gullible investors by WWMPL was parked with the help of financial wizards like accused-chartered accountant.  So far, Wasankar is charged with duping the unsuspecting investors to the tune of Rs 250 crore. His firm had promised astronomical returns, but eventually failed to honour the promise and thus ruined financial life of hundreds of investors.

The Special Court on April 12, rejected discharge application moved by Hangekar pleading innocence citing sufficient evidence against him.

Hangekar moved the High Court against this rejection. In his application, the accused-CA claimed that statements of Naresh Shrimal Chandan, Dimple Kanungo and Dheeraj Shah do not show that he had diverted any amount to them from the accounts of Wasankar or his WWMPL. As a professional CA of Kanungo, he had suggested WWMPL about proper investment opportunities, and questioned EoW’s move to join him as an accused. There was no prima-facie case against him nor any specific role was attributed to him, he contended.

Justice M G Giratkar after hearing both the sides noted that the Special Court had dubbed Hangekar as “conspirator to the present offence.” He was charged with transferring the amount of investors from the account of WWMPL directors in the name of his father and wife and as such the Special Court did not any substance in his discharge plea.

The High Court, in its detailed order, noted that Mumbai-based builders and investors got involved in Wasankar scam only after CA Hangekar convinced them to invest with Wasankar or accept money from WWMPL. A dispute share transaction was undertaken only at his behest, the High Court noted. Even a Rs 18 crore property transaction of Wasankar with Dimple Kamlesh Kanungo for purchase of five flats at Arbit Terrace, Senapati Bapat Marg, Tulsi Piperoad, Lower Parel, Mumbai, were undertaken as per his suggestion. EoW cited several disputed transactions aimed at parking money of Wasankar’s firm in which the CA played a major role and High Court also found sufficient material against accused and rejected his discharge application. Senior Counsel Anand Jaiswal and Adv Piyush Shukla appeared for the applicant CA. APP Neeraj Jawade represented EoW.


How Rs 23 cr were allegedly diverted

Naresh Chandan purchased 2.65 lakh shares @ Rs.445/­ per share from Kanungo.  In lieu of some amount, CA Hangekar and Kanungo suggested him to sell some shares to Wasankar’s company. They promised to pay remaining amount and Rs 5 per share to Chandan. As recommended by the CA, he entered into MoU with Vinay Wasankar, Bhagyashree Wasankar and Mithila Wasankar. He sold shares to them and received Rs 11,89,75,000, Chandan had admitted in his statement Dimple Kanungo in her statement to EoW claimed that her CA who was also financial advisor of Wasankar himself had suggested that WWMPL wanted to invest money in property. Five flats bearing nos. 1702, 2503, 2703, 2803, 3203 situated at high-end residential tower at Lower Parel were sold to Wasankar’s firm for Rs 18 crore and received earnest money of Rs.1.15 crore. Remaining amount was not paid to her which led to arbitration proceeding and matter was settled.

Dhreeraj Shah in his statement claimed that CA Hangekar approached him with one Rubeer Joshi, an accountant with WWMPL in July 2013. Joshi claimed that WWMPL was keen to invest Rs 50 crore. Wasankar’s firm consented to purchase shares worth Rs 50 crore @ Rs 235 per share. Wasankar’s firm agreed to purchase shares of Rs.47 lakh. MoU was reduced into writing and CA signed as a witness.