Trail of Goa kickbacks could lead to Dubai

Till he resigned his post in 2005, N Surayanarayana was but a small cog in the Goa civil service cadre with a reputation for gambling huge at the offshore casinos.

The palatial mansion of Monserrate in Goa. Pic: Arvind Tengse

By early 2006, the former government employee had become a conduit for the transfer of large sums of unaccounted funds that were swallowing up green tracts of land in Goa.
Over Rs 26.5 crore channelised through Suryanarayana were kickbacks paid to Congress Minister Atanasio Monserrate alias Babush for land conversions, income tax documents, as reported first by Deccan Herald on Monday, show.

The trail of this money could well lead back to a real estate conglomerate in Dubai that is muscling its way into this small tourism destination. Monserrate, who currently holds the education portfolio, was minister for town and country planning under the Pratapsingh Rane-led Congress government at the time the pay-offs were made. He was forced to resign from the Rane ministry in January 2007 over the controversial Regional Plan 2011 which was seen as a set-up for land conversions.

“There was a demand for large chunks of land for building five-hotels and resorts in Goa, especially in areas near the sea shore.” With his wife N Sunitha and partner M Kishore, Suryanarayana set up a syndicate of  “consolidators” to scout for properties and work through the ownership tangle, the assessment order and notice served on him by I-T Deputy Commissioner (Central Circle, Panaji) V S Chakrapani says.

Amit Mahato and Ryan Semelhago, directors of Goa Dourado Promotions were part of the syndicate of facilitators who were picking up huge commissions. So were Prakash Rege and Dr Vankudre for land in South Maharashtra and Irvin Soares and Padmaja Rane of SR consultants for land at Pilerne, North Goa.

“The consolidators would either enter into an agreement to purchase small pieces of land by paying them some advance or obtain the power of attorney to sign on behalf of the land owners,” the I-T order says, noting that “There was an astronomical difference between the actual price paid to the land owners and the amounts paid by the ultimate purchaser”.

These huge “consultancy” charges over and above the amounts registered in the sale deeds were detected by the I-T department in land deals with Embryonic Properties Pvt Ltd, ECRU Builders Pvt Ltd and Enigma Properties Pvt Ltd – all subsidiaries of Emaar MGF Land Pvt Ltd.

The Dubai-based Emaar Properties run by Mohamed Ali Alabbar is part of the APIIC land scam in Andhra Pradesh being investigated by the CBI. Andhra Pradesh Home Secretary B P Acharya was arrested in the case on Monday.

Emaar has bought huge swathes of agricultural and orchard lands in Goa (at Pilerne, Old Goa, Verna and Siridao) through Suryanarayana who also has offices in Hyderabad, ostensibly on the promise that these would be converted by Monserrate.

The I-T authorities noted in the case of Emaar, “additional amounts” were paid to Suryanarayana’s syndicate as an advance for land deals to be executed in the future with the clause that the buyer stood to forfeit the entire amount if the deal fell through.

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