C.C. Thampi

Dubai: A UAE-based Indian businessman was arrested by the Enforcement Directorate of India in connection with a money laundering case, media reports said on Monday.

Indian media reported that Ajman-based C. C. Thampi was arrested from New Delhi in connection with the money laundering investigation against Robert Vadra, the son-in-law of Congress chief Sonia Gandhi, and absconding arms dealer Sanjay Bhandari for acquisition of alleged illegal assets abroad.

Reports said that Vadra allegedly acquired a London-based property at 12, Bryanston Square worth 1.9 million GBP (British pounds), with the help of Bhandari and Thampi.

The agency arrested the Keralite expat whose original name is Cheruvathur Chakutty Thampi on Friday under the provision of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) after he was summoned in the case, they said.

In 2017, he was reportedly charged by the agency in an alleged illegal hawala dealing and land purchase case in India in alleged contravention of the Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA).

It had also issued a FEMA show-cause notice to Thampi for alleged violation of foreign exchange laws to the tune of over Rs 1,000 crore in the purchase of vast tracts of land in Kerala, reports stated.

Thampi and his three companies, Holiday City Centre, Holiday Properties and Holiday Bekal Resorts were reportedly under ED investigation, under Foreign Exchange Management Act,1999 for an aggregate amount of Rs. 288 crores. His links with another company called Sky Light was also being probed.

Though the investigation is about his link with the Congress leaders’ family member, a senior journalist in Dubai said Thampi was close to some leaders of Kerala’s left politicians also.

“He was closely associated with a cultural group headed by a former minister,” he said. “More than politics, it is all about his money and relationships.”

Another community source said Thampi, who rose from rags to riches in three decades, had been keeping a low profile after the Indian agencies started investigations against him.

According to the LinkedIn profile of The Holiday Group, Thampi’s business conglomerate has three divisions, namely Trading, Hospitality and REM (Real Estate, Engineering and Media.

This jointly totals an annual turn-over of $500M and employee comprising more than 2000 skilled professionals from diverse disciplines and nationalities, it said.

The phone number on the profile was not working on Monday. And a website listed on it said it was currently under construction.

However, it was business as usual for Thampi’s restaurant chain on Monday. Both the Dubai and Ajman branches said they were open.

The restaurant chain with authentic Kerala dishes, wooden interior and traditionally-clad waitresses had been featured in prominent magazines and on the website of Dubai Tourism.