The Enforcement Directorate on Wednesday issued summons to former Maharashtra revenue minister Eknath Khadse, asking him to appear before them on Thursday to record his statement, in connection with the money laundering case registered by the agency in the Pune land deal case of 2016.
According to the ED, an ECIR was recorded under the provisions of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) on August 28, 2019 against Khadse, his wife Mandakini, son-in-law Girish Chaudhary and one Abbas Ukani. This was done on the basis of an FIR filed by the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB), Pune, under the provisions of the Prevention of Corruption Act, alleging land grab of a plot at Bhosari (Pune), belonging to MIDC, and causing a loss to the exchequer to the tune of Rs 61.25 crore by fraudulently entering into sale deed.
During the PMLA investigation, the ED had recorded a statement of Khadse on January 15, 2021, in which he had stated that he was not aware of the said land deal and the same was done by his wife Mandakini and son-in-law.
While seeking his son-in-law Girish Chaudhary’s custody on Wednesday, the ED stated in its remand application that the land has been acquired by the MIDC and there are various industries on the said plot. It called the deal “pre-meditated and well-planned criminal conspiracy”. The ED has claimed that Abbas Ukani and the admitted purchasers – Mandakini, Chaudhary, the revenue authority and former revenue minister Eknath Khadse – registered a sale deed on April 28, 2016 at the office of sub-registrar Haveli-10 “to usurp and grab the parcel of land for a total consideration of Rs 3.75 crore”.
The agency further claimed in its document, “In furtherance of criminal conspiracy, Khadse mobilised the revenue officer to acquire the land from MIDC. So that the family of the revenue minister shall file the compensation, more than twice the market value of the property, before the revenue authorities.” As per the FIR, the ED said the valuation provided by the sub-registrar comes to Rs 31.01 crores. “However, it appears that Khadse, by abusing and misusing his official position, coerced and forced the registration officials to reflect the market value of the said land in the Index II as Rs 3.75 crore,” the ED said in the application.
It further states, “As a result, Khadse, his wife and his sonin-law have suppressed the true market value of the said land from the public and caused illegal changes/alterations in government records. The act of deleting and omitting the true market value of the said property in the records by sub-registrar and reflecting the compromised market value prima-facie reflects a criminal act of tempering and forging… on the instruction of the revenue minister.”
Meanwhile, the ED revealed that Chaudhary, in his statement on Tuesday, said he and his mother-in-law had purchased the said land for Rs 3.75 crore from Ukani family. However, when asked about the market value, he remained evasive. He told the ED that he himself identified the said land for his business purpose through local agents.
He was again evasive in response to the name of the agent. He also stated that when the sale deed agreement was made, the land was reserved to MIDC under the head of ‘other reservation’. When asked why he entered into the deal when he was aware that the land is reserved, he stated that his advocate informed that NOC is not required from MIDC as it’s in Ukani’s name.