A probe agency of the Enforcement Directorate arrested CC Thampi of Holiday Group for alleged circumvention of FEMA (Foreign Exchange Management Act). An ED release on Monday said Thampi acquired agricultural land in the name of his company - Holiday City Centre Pvt. Ltd in contravention of FEMA 1999.
Thampi, an NRI, and his three companies - Holiday City Centre, Holiday Properties and Holiday Bekal Resorts - have been on the radar of the ED for at least four years with the agency estimating the FEMA contravention at Rs 288 crores. In November, last year, the ED issued a show-cause notice to Thampi for alleged FEMA to the tune of Rs 1000 crores.
The release added that Thampi acquired huge agricultural land in Palwal, NCR and Gautam Buddha Nagar, U.P. through the three companies, which he otherwise would not have been able to purchase being a NRI.
A case of money laundering against the businessman pegs the case of contravention at 1.9 million pounds in UK. The ED also booked Thampi under Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) in connection with alleged wrongful approval for an engineering college in Thrissur by All India Council for Technical Education in 2009. Thampi has businesses extending across India and UAE.
The Rags to Riches Story:
Surprisingly, Thampi has a unique rags to riches story. Hailing from Thrissur district in Kerala, Thampi's life changed for the better after he landed up in the Middle East in the eighties. Initially odd-jobs kept Thampi busy, but soon he set up his own business in the UAE.
As on date, Thampi owns a string of businesses across several sectors and in multiple locations both in and outside the Gulf country ranging from educational institutions, resorts, distilleries and real estate.
Though many in his home town Thrissur are yet to figure out the reason behind the meteoric rise in Thampi's business, it is pertinent to mention here that his upward mobility gained momentum after he reportedly became close to Congress veteran K. Karunakaran, who reportedly has a significant political base in Thrissur.
After gaining the confidence of Karunakaran, who for close to two decades from the eighties on-wards was the byword in Congress politics in Kerala and nationally too for a brief while, Thampi had no reason to look back.
From then on-wards, Thampi's contacts in Congress circles started to grow outside the state, which have now culminated in his arrest by the ED which is probing Congress leader Sonia Gandhi's son-in-law Robert Vadra regarding certain properties in the UK.
On Saturday evening, Thampi was sent to a three-day ED custody by Special CBI Judge Arvind Kumar. He is scheduled to be presented in Delhi's Rouse Avenue Court on Tuesday, the end of his three-day Enforcement Directorate remand.
With agency inputs.