Rs 177 crore: Jammu and Kashmir, son of former finance minister held in a bank scam

SRINAGAR: The Bureau of Anti-Corruption (ACB) arrested the son of a former J&K finance minister on Thursday who is accused of diverting Rs million in commercial loans from J&K Bank cheated by scams to personal assets abroad, including a village of eight bedrooms on a Dubai island, where celebrities such as actor Shah Rukh Khan and footballer David Beckham own properties.

Hilal Ahmed Rather, son of the three-time National MLA Conference Abdul Rahim Rather, was picked up from Jammu after an investigation into allegations that he used his father's influence as finance minister in the Omar Abdullah government in 2012 to obtain multiple loans sanctioned in the name of commercial companies.

An ACB spokesman said Hilal and his business partners took most of these loans for the Paradise Avenue municipality project in Narwalbala in Batandi. Apparently, almost the entire amount was diverted to other companies, personal property and luxurious holidays abroad.

According to the official, the investigation revealed that the Paradise Avenue project, a joint venture between Hilal, Rizwan Raheem Dar of Sanat Nagar in Srinagar, Ghulam Mohd Bhatt of Baramulla and Daljeet Wadhera and Deepshikha Jamwal of Jammu, had been sanctioned with a term loan . of Rs 74.27 crore in the first phase. This was a deviation from the credit policy of J&K Bank, which restricts any loan requested by a company associated with Rs 40 crore. In the case of Paradise Avenue, the loan was approved by the then Board of Directors of J&K Bank in violation of the credit rules, the official said.

The ACB claims to have found evidence that other loans requested by Hilal and its partners for the Paradise Avenue project were sanctioned despite not paying the first installment.

Hilal not only faces charges of acquiring loans illegally from J&K Bank and never repaying them. He has also been charged with financial negligence by the income tax department, which raided several properties he owned and his partners in Jammu and the Valley in June last year.

In addition to the construction business, Hilal is known to have interests in real estate, energy, telecommunications and various other sectors. His first contact with the infamy was a few years ago, when reports emerged that he had allegedly made J&K Bank mandatory for all its employees to use the mobile services offered by a particular telecommunications company.

Of all its supposed real estate acquisitions abroad, the largest is the town of Palm Jumeirah, an artificial archipelago in Dubai that is advertised as the eighth wonder of the world. The total loan amount used by Hilal Ahmed Rather has become an unprofitable asset for J&K, the ACB spokesman said. Until Thursday night, Hilal was housed at the Pacca Danga police station in Jammu.