FPJ Legal | Money laundering case:'Strong prima-facie case' against Anil Deshmukh’s PA, says court

Bhavna UchilUpdated: Friday, December 10, 2021, 11:36 PM IST
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Anil Deshmukh | PTI

“There is a strong prima facie case which points out his involvement”, a special court said while denying bail to former state home minister Anil Deshmukh’s personal assistant Kundan Shinde in a money laundering case in which the politician was arrested last month and is now in custody.

Shinde was arrested on June 26. While bail was denied on Tuesday, the detailed order was made available on Friday. The Enforcement Directorate (ED) alleges Shinde and the Nationalist Congress Party leader’s personal secretary Sanjeev Palande tried to enhance bribe collections from orchestra and bar owners by collaborating with dismissed policeman Sachin Vaze. It was on Deshmukh’s instructions that Vaze had allegedly been making the collections. Shinde is also a member of the Nagpur-based educational trust, Shri Sai Shikshan Sanstha, run by Deshmukh and his family. The trust, the ED says, was used in money laundering, as the bribes were routed through shell companies and sent to it as donations.

The court said that the statements to the ED officers, the flow chart (of money trail) and amounts received from four to five companies of the Jain brothers (directors of shell companies), prima facie indicated the generation of the proceeds of crime, its trail and putting an end to the process of money laundering by depositing the same with the trust under the garb of donations. Hence, it said, there is a “strong prima facie case which points out the involvement” of Shinde in all stages required under a specific provision of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA).

Shinde’s advocate had argued that Vaze, who gave statements to the ED on many aspects that form a chunk of the allegations against Shinde, had falsely implicated him with an imaginary story. Special judge MG Deshpande said in his order that even if the argument is accepted, the question remained how any person, including Sachin Vaze, could build up or fabricate a story with such minute details regarding the date of meetings, the date of collections, etc. The court said that at this stage the statements could not be disbelieved, which have corroboration of details in respect of money transfers.

Judge Deshpande said that considering the gravity and magnitude of the offence, he held that there was “absolutely no strong prima facie case” to grant bail. The court further said that there was every possibility that Shinde would take all steps to make evidence vanish and paralyse the trial if granted the relief.

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