UAE-based NRI businessman CC Thampi has been arrested by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) in New Delhi, India. He is being probed for alleged forex violations of over INR 10 billion among other charges, under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA), according to media reports.
The ED arrested him on Friday evening in the wake of investigations into Congress leader Sonia Gandhi's son-in-law Robert Vadra, allegedly involving money laundering vis-a-vis assets worth GBP 1.9 million in the UK. Thampi was sent to three-day ED custody by special CBI Judge Arvind Kumar on Saturday evening.
Cheruvathur Chakutty Thampi, hailing from Kerala, was in 2017 charged by the ED in an alleged illegal hawala dealing and land purchase case in India in contravention of the Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA).
He has been summoned by the central agency in the past for questioning about his alleged links with Indian businessman Vadra and absconding arms dealer Sanjay Bhandari.
Thampi is the owner of an engineering college in Thrissur Kerala, which had, in 2009, come under the scanner for alleged wrongful approval by the All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE).
The firms that are being investigated by the ED, as part of the two FEMA show-cause notices issued against him, include Holiday City Centre Private Limited, Holiday Properties Private Limited and Holiday Bekal Resorts Private Limited.
Thampi started off by doing odd jobs after moving to the Middle East in the 1980s, before setting up his own business in the UAE. He now owns a string of businesses, in and outside the UAE, including real estate, a hotel chain, educational institutions, resorts, distilleries and the popular Kerala cuisine restaurant chain Nalukettu in Ajman and Dubai.