The Enforcement Directorate (ED) has confiscated eight flats and five car parking spaces of singer Adnan Sami in a high rise building here and slapped a Rs 20 lakh fine on him for acquiring assets without permission of Reserve Bank of India as he was a Pakistani national.
The properties, located in Oberoi Sky Garden Housing Society in posh Lokhandwala complex in suburban Andheri, were acquired by Sami in 2003 in violation of Foreign Exchange Management (acquisition and transfer of immovable property in India) Regulations, 2000, ED sources said.
Under these regulations, any person, who is a citizen of Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Afghanisthan, China, Iran, Nepal or Bhutan cannot purchase or transfer any kind of immovable property in India without taking permission of RBI.
The properties were confiscated following an order passed by Foreign Exchange Management Act adjudication authority.
Confirming the development, Sami's lawyer Vibhav Krishna told PTI, "We have received a copy of the order but the properties have not yet been confiscated. We have a right to appeal before the appellate forum of FEMA and we shall exercise this right within two days."
Sami had purchased these properties in 2003 for Rs 2.53 crore. In 2008, he gifted five flats and three parking slots to his wife Sabah Galadari, a UAE national.
Later, his relations with Sabah turned soar and she filed a divorce case against him. Sabah claimed that the flats gifted by Sami now belonged to her, although he disputed her plea in the court which declared their marriage null and void.
ED confiscated the flats saying purchase of all the properties as well as transfer of five flats and three parking slots to Sabah were illegal and violated FEMA laws.
It had earlier sent notice to Sami asking him to show cause why flats and parking spaces should not be confiscated. He was also called for questioning early this year.
ED said that Sami had not taken approval of RBI to buy these properties and after acquiring them when he applied for the permission, the apex bank had rejected his plea. ED claimed that while taking loans to buy properties, he had misled banks by declaring that he was an Indian national.
Sami's lawyer Vibhav Krishna told PTI that the singer had taken a stand before the FEMA adjudication authority that RBI had powers to grant ex-post-facto permission to acquire the properties and such an application made by him is pending before the apex court.
Sami urged that till RBI decides his application, the authorities should not pass any order but his plea was rejected, Krishna said.
The singer pleaded that he had taken loans from Axis bank to buy these properties and there was no question of foreign exchange violation. Hence FEMA rules were not violated.
Sami urged that he may be allowed to cross examine the builder and two witnesses (Bank officers) who had given statements that they were not aware about his Pakistani national status.
He also told the FEMA adjudication forum that he had applied for Indian citizenship and his application was pending before authorities. The singer pleaded that he had got a PAN card and was paying income tax in India since last ten years. His mother was from Jammu and he had roots in India.
Meanwhile, addressing a press conference at his Andheri residence, Adnan Sami said he had become a victim of the circumstances.
What had happened to him was nothing but an exposure of the system, he told mediapersons.
Flanked by his lawyer Vibhav Krishna, Sami said he would file an appeal before the appellate tribunal of FEMA within the stipulated 45 days.
"The incident basically exposes the system in which innocent buyers like me become the victim of circumstances", Sami said.
The builder, Vikas Oberoi, had arranged housing loan from Axis Bank to enable the purchase of the flats and parking slots and he had purchased the properties in good faith, Adnan said.
The builder also engaged a lawyer who wrote to Reserve Bank of India that he was a Pakistani national and should be permitted to buy the properties. But the apex bank had rejected the plea in 2003. However, Sami claimed, he was not informed about RBI's decision by the builder.
The flats were sold to him without revealing that the purchase was illegal and he entered into the purchase deal in good faith, Sami said.
The singer further said that the Registrar of Assurances was also brought to his flat and he did not visit the office of the former for the Registration of properties. Even the Registrar did not inform him that the deal was illegal, he said.
"Influential people have manipulated the system to corner me", Sami said adding that when FEMA authorities questioned the builder the latter said he was not aware that the buyer (Sami) was a Pakistani national.
ED Confiscates Properties of Adnan Sami
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