<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>All attention turned to the palatial five-storied Lodha House at Queens Park in South Kolkata’s posh Ballygunge area on Thursday morning, after the arrest of Kolkata-based businessman Parasmal Lodha by officials of the Enforcement Directorate (ED) at Mumbai airport.Lodha is alleged to have helped business tycoons in south India convert about Rs 25 crore of their unaccounted money in demonetized denominations into legal tenders, against a commission, through hawala routes.Sources said that he had been on the ED radar and officials had visited his residence two times earlier this week before he was finally arrested late last night while trying to leave the country. The agency also recovered Rs 2.6 lakh from his possession, in new currency notes.“We are hopeful that his arrest will give us new leads into others from Kolkata involved in the racket of converting illegal currency notes into new ones,” said a senior official.He said that officials who had come to Lodha’s residence had found that he had shifted to New Delhi in 2010 and used to visit his Queens Park residence once a month. “He had come to Kolkata last week and had left last Friday,” the official said.The residence was known to have been done up luxuriously and housed a collection of antiques. Officials said that Lodha’s wife was out of town, his two daughters were married and the house was taken care of by a staff of six members, including a driver and a caretaker.One of Lodha’s business associates, on the condition of anonymity, said that Lodha would hardly mingle with the business community in Kolkata and had run into controversies before. “He had been known for his association with several building projects where floors have been added illegally. Lodha had also been questioned by investigators after the Stephen Court fire on Park Street in March 2010, which killed 43 people,” he said. It had also been alleged that Lodha was involved in adding extra floors to building such as Bagaria Market and Nicco House.Parasmal Lodha had also hit the headlines in 1991 for taking over the then largest non-banking financial institution, Peerless General Finance and Investment Company Limited, alleging that it was being mismanaged and that he had plans of a thorough revamp of it.Apart from real estate, he had expanded his business to mining, consultancy firms and dealing in antiques. It is believed that he had shifted base to Delhi after finding the antique market more lucrative there.
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