In 2000, India’s biggest tax evader, Hassan Ali Khan, gifted a Rs.1.2 crore diamond to Congress politician from Andhra Pradesh, Renuka Chowdhury. Khan was also close to other Andhra Pradesh politicians such as former chief minister Vijay Bhaskar Reddy and Lok Sabha member Jaya Prada. These revelations have been made by Khan’s one-timebusiness partner Kashinath Tapuriah, a Kolkata-based industrialist now lodged in Mumbai’s Arthur Road jail with Khan in a case of tax evasion.
In a statement to officials of the Enforcement Directorate (ED) in Mumbai on March 31 this year-of which India Iodayhas a copy-Tapuriah named influential politicians as “friends of Khan”. The statement, in which he has said that he first met Khan in April 1994 in Kolkata through four brokers, was recorded on video and in writing as per the orders of the Supreme Court.
About the diamond gifted to Chowdhury, Tapuriah says, “I had taken a diamond from Soir Jewellers in Mumbai, owned by building contractor Abbas Naqvi, to keep with me. (It) cost around Rs.1.2 crore. Khan took it saying he would give me the money or the diamond within three months. He told me that he wanted to give the diamond to an important person and referred to Renuka Chowdhury. She is a politician. Khan had told me that she was a very close friend. I was never paid for the diamond…” Tapuriah said that he met Chowdhury through Congress leader Jagdish Tytler. Despite repeated attempts byIndia Today to contact her, Chowdhury was unavailable for comment.
Khan had introduced Tapuriah to Reddy and A.S. Choudhary, another Andhra Pradesh leader, in 2000. Reddy was not the chief minister then; Choudhary was a Rajya Sabha member. “I met Reddy at his residence in Delhi and Choudhary at a flat in Mumbai. I had gone to meet Khan at a flat in Mumbai. Choudhary was present there and Khan introduced me to him. Later, I came to know that Khan was staying with Choudhary in the flat.” Tapuriah claims that Khan had an “intimate relationship” with a well-known actress. He has also spoken about Mumbai-based builder and film financer, Yusuf Lakdawala, and his links with Khan. He says Lakdawala had promised to get Khan out of trouble with the ed and the it department. “I had met Yusuf Lakdawala at Khan’s Mumbai residence. When Khan told him about the problems he was facing because of ED and it, he (Lakdawala) merely said that it will be done,” Tapuriah stated.
He has also mentioned opening seven bank accounts abroad. “I was pursuing Khan for funds and with that expectation I had opened these accounts so as to divide the funds, but that did not materialise,” he said. It remains to be seen if Tapuriah will sue Khan for gifting a diamond that he did not pay for.