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Top Yash Birla group executive detained for drug possession

Saturday, 11 January 2014 - 7:23am IST | Place: Mumbai | Agency: dna

IT sleuths stumble on the banned substance during a raid in a five-star hotel.

A top executive of the Yash Birla group of companies was detained from a five-star hotel in South Mumbai by officials of the Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) for alleged drug possession late on Friday night. According to NCB, the matter came to light when officials of the Income Tax (IT) department, while conducting a raid, stumbled upon the narcotic substance believed to be in possession of the top executive.

“We got a tip-off from officials of the IT department, saying they were conducting raids on the Yash Birla group of companies and were searching the rooms of one of their directors, Anand Vardhan, who was staying in a five-star hotel in South Mumbai,” Rohit Kathiyar, zonal director, NCB, told dna.
He said during the search. the IT officials stumbled upon a fair quantity of drugs.

“The IT officials immediately informed us and a team rushed to the hotel,” Kathiyar said. “We have currently detained Vardhan and his servant, and are questioning them. Some quantity of banned narcotic substance believed to be cocaine has been found inside the hotel room premises.”

Senior NCB officials said that it was too early to come to any conclusion. “We are questioning the duo and cannot reveal anything else at this moment. It is too early to conclude anything,” the official said on condition of anonymity. He refused to reveal how much cocaine was found.

NCB sources said that they will question Vardhan and his servant about how they got possession of the drugs. “We also need to find out if they were in possession of more drugs and how they procured the banned substance,” the senior official said. The duo is likely to be questioned till late on Friday night and even on Saturday, sources said.

For the past couple of days, the investigations wing of the IT department has been conducting searches at about 20 premises of the Yash Birla group in Mumbai and New Delhi for alleged tax evasion. “We have conducted searches at 20 locations of five Yash Birla group companies in connection with allegations of tax evasion,” IT department officials said.

During the raids and searches, IT sleuths examined books of accounts of the companies. Officials, however, said that a clear picture would emerge only a few days later after they have thoroughly examined all the documents. “After the entire investigation is done, we will come to know if there is a case of tax violation and we will act accordingly,” an IT official said.

The 150-year-old group, with a turnover of Rs3,000 crore, is involved in a wide range of sectors such as auto, engineering, steel pipes, machine tools, iron castings, pumps and electrical appliances.

The group is also into health, wellness, lifestyle, education, travel and information technology. Nine of its companies are publicly listed, according to the group’s website.

Yash Birla himself was embroiled in another controversy in September last year when the Sewree sessions court refused to grant relief to him and Yogendra Tiwari from four alleged cheque bouncing cases registered against them by Kunal Corporations.

Birla and Tiwari had contended that when the alleged offence of cheque bouncing occurred, they had resigned from their positions in the company — Birla Power Solutions. Their defence advocate  claimed that Birla and Tiwari had reportedly tendered their resignations before the alleged offence took place. However, the court held that the legal position of the complaint needed to be examined to find out the truth and hence, the application filed by Birla cannot be accepted.

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