Paras Mal Lodha, who shot to fame in the mid 80s, earned the blessings of CPI(M) government to carry on with his construction business.
Several houses in Central and South Kolkata which were built between 1985 and 1990 had Lodha as the key person. He used to settle unauthorised construction with the police and building department of the Kolkata Municipal Corporation and regularised the unauthorised portions.
This closeness with erstwhile senior government officials got him involved in Stephen Court where his main work was to get rid of old tenants and sub-let those vacant places to new ones against payment of heavy money. His name had cropped up when 43 people were killed in a major fire at Stephen Court.
The 60-year-old Kolkata based businessman was arrested by officers of the Enforcement Directorate for allegedly converting demonetised notes worth Rs 25 crore with valid ones. The arrest came when he attempted to flee to Malaysia.
He came to Kolkata in 1977 or 1978 from Sujangarh in Rajasthan’s Churu district. As a young student of a well-known college in Central Kolkata he used to sell foreign magazines particularly Playboy and People to his fellow students at a premium.
Later on he started selling foreign goods like branded sunglasses, watches and perfume which were rare in Kolkata in those days.
A connoisseur of branded clothes with Errol Flynn moustache, he was accepted in high society as a good conversationalists and a thorough gentleman. He also has stakes in business including tea, mining, export and import.
Later, he became a collector of antiques and came close to important persons in the society, whom he later used for his business. It was in 1991 when he had aggressively attempted to take over Peerless General Investment and Finance Company.
His alleged connection with underworld don Dawood Ibrahim also came to light when he attempted to take over the company.
Lodha, who had attempted to flee to Malaysia, had invited many top brass of the country in his daughter’s marriage in 2014. Interestingly, guests were brought to the city in chartered flight. He also owns a farm house in Delhi on a plot of over 150 acre, sources said.