Businessman arrested for converting 25 crore worth of old notes, no stranger to controversy

Kolkata based businessman Parasmal Lodha was today nabbed by the Enforcement Directorate for converting old notes worth Rs 25 crores. He was also detained a few days back after it was found that the 13 crores seized from the office of lawyer Rohit Tandon actually belonged to Lodha.

Parasmal Lodha is a real estate developer and has stakes in mining, finance, consultancy and restaurant firms. His also nicknamed as ‘Extra floors Lodha’ or ‘Fiddler on the roof’ for being infamous for approaching house owners in a bid to construct extra floors on that building and using them for his own purposes. Its reported that Lodha first came to prominence when the Left front came to power and was dubbed close to a minister in the government.

He has also featured in other controversies:

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The 2010 Stephen Court fire: Fire engulfed the top two floors Stephen Court building in Kolkata killing at least 43 people. Reports later came out that it was Lodha who had built or to be more accurate, added the top two floors but had chosen not to provide an extension to the spiral staircase which came up to the 4th floor. Had he done so, the people present on those floors could have used the same as a fire exit. He had built the floors in mid 80’s and had proceeded to get them legalized.

The controversy for which he is most well known is his attempted hostile takeover of Peerless General Finance and Investment Company Limited. The year is 1991, Pearless group at that time was flourishing with a deposit base of Rs 1,340 crore witnessing a 15% year on year growth and major investments in shipping, hotels, tourism and housing in the pipeline. Those who didn’t have a stake wanted one and those who had a stake wanted more. Parasmal Lodha was one such guy, having a 22% stake he apparently wanted a larger piece of the pie. Peerless’s Chairman and Managing Director P.C. Sen and Joint Managing Director S.K. Roy had other ideas. This after all wasn’t the first time Lodha had tried a takeover. Back in 1986 he had managed to garner 51% of the shares and a seat on the board. Just that IT raids had forced him to sell most of the stake.

This time though Lodha petitioned the Central Government and approached the courts in order to somehow coerce S.K. Roy into selling his 68% stake. Then the Chairman and MD P.C. Sen started alleging how Lodha had offered substantial amount of money to Roy and when he refused, threatened that Roy would sleep with the fishes. Sen further alleged that in order to carry out the offer which Roy couldn’t possibly refuse Lodha had requested the services of Dawood Ibrahim.

Though the police wasn’t convinced of the same and let off Lodha after questioning, the whole episode ensured Lodha gained prominence in the corporate world.

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