The Enforcement Directorate (ED), on Saturday, claimed before a special Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) court that at least 24 companies, which are either directly or indirectly controlled by family members or close associates of former state home minister Anil Deshmukh, were under the scanner.
The ED made the claim while seeking the custody of Deshmukh’s personal secretary Sanjeev Palande and personal assistant Kundan Shinde, who were arrested by the agency on Friday night. The PMLA court has remanded them to ED’s custody till July 1.
Earlier in the day, Anil Deshmukh, who was summoned by the ED, did not turn up before the directorate. Deshmukh's lawyer instead visited the ED office and asked for a copy of the case filed and the documents related to it. The ED is likely to issue fresh summons to Deshmukh next week, sources said.
It is suspected that some of these companies are entities that do not have active business operations but have been set up to achieve specific business objectives such as reducing tax liabilities, shielding an entity from legal risks, raising capital, etc. Whether they were also involved in any illegalities is now a matter of investigation.
"The various bank account statements of these entities and individuals were analysed, and it was revealed that money was flowing from companies indirectly controlled by family members of Anil Deshmukh to companies directly controlled by family members of Deshmukh and vice-a-versa. An analysis revealed that there is no rationale for transfers and it can thus be said that these series of transactions were meant for inflating balance sheets and layering of money from one company to other," the ED document stated.
The investigation has revealed that there are 11 companies -- including M/s Rabia Logistics Pvt. Ltd., M/s Blackstone Logistics Pvt. Ltd., M/s Concrete Enterprise Pvt. Ltd., M/s Nautical Warehousing pvt. Ltd., M/s Parabola warehousing Pvt. Ltd., M/s Bio-natural organic Pvt. Ltd. and M/s Katol Energy Pvt.Ltd. etc. -- which are directly controlled by family members of Anil Deshmukh.
Another set of 13 companies -- including M/s Sublime warehousing Pvt Ltd., M/s Vishvesh Logistics Pvt. Ltd., M/s Aroma Enterprises Pvt. Ltd., M/s Mintree Premier Lifestyle & Beauty Private Limited, Travotels hotel, M/s Mrigtrishana Trading ltd. etc.-- have also been detected which are in the names of close associates of Deshmukh family and controlled by family members of Anil Deshmukh, the ED claimed in its remand application.
According to ED officials, searches were conducted at six premises on Friday, including the residential and office premises of the directors or shareholders of the companies indirectly controlled by family members of Deshmukh at Nagpur, Ahmedabad and Mumbai.
The ED claimed that it had recorded statements of six directors or family members and also those of two chartered accountants.
"It has emerged that these persons are close associates of Deshmukh’s family and through these persons Deshmukh family was indirectly controlling or managing the business activities in various aforesaid companies," said an ED official.
"Vikram Raj Sharma, one of the dummy directors and owner of 4 companies, in his statement, admitted that the finance required for establishment of his company, namely, Qubix Hospitality Pvt. Ltd. was funnelled by Hrishikesh Deshmukh and the business of said companies is being controlled by Anil Deshmukh's son Hrishikesh only,” claimed the ED’s remand copy.
Subsequently, Sharma clarified that he was unaware about the said four companies in which he is either a director or a shareholder and was signing various documents, including cheques, at the instruction of Hrishikesh Deshmukh, added ED officials.
Prakash Ramani, a chartered accountant of Deshmukh family, in his statement stated that the above said companies are directly or indirectly controlled by Deshmukh family members, claimed ED officials.
The ED also claimed that one Sagar Bhatewara in his statement stated that M/s Sublime Warehousing Pvt. Ltd., engaged in handling and transport business, has purchased 4 passenger vehicles on loan, instead of transportation vehicles. He further stated that one of the vehicles -- a Mercedes GLE (MH 49 AS 1000) --was being used by Hrishikesh Deshmukh on regular basis.
The ED claimed that dismissed police officer Sachin Vaze was collecting money from bar owners in Mumbai at the behest of Anil Deshmukh. Vaze, whose statement was recorded at Taloja jail, has claimed that he had collected Rs 4.7 crore from various bar owners between December 2020 and February 2021 which was handed over Deshmukh’s personal assistant Kundan Shinde in two instalments in January and February 2021, claimed ED officials. ED claimed that the facts narrated by Vaze was further confirmed by the two police officials whose statements have been recorded.
"Further scrutiny of bank account statements has brought out the name Shri Sai Shikshan Sanstha Nagpur, a charitable trust run by Deshmukh’s family which runs engineering and polytechnic colleges in Nagpur. The President of the said trust is Anil Deshmukh, and trustee and members are the family members of Anil Deshmukh. Kundan Shinde is also one of the members of said trust,” claimed ED.
An analysis of bank statements of the said trust reveals that are a number of cheque entries in recent past amounting to Rs. 4.18 crores, which was received by this trust from various Delhi based companies, namely, M/s Reliable finance corporation Pvt. Ltd, M/s VA Realcon Pvt. Ltd., M/s Utsav Securities Pvt. Ltd. and M/s Sital Leasing and finance Pvt. Ltd, claimed the ED. On enquiry, it was found that these companies are only on paper and work for providing transfer entries, said ED.
Accordingly, searches were conducted at four locations at Delhi and the statement of Jain brothers, Surendra and Virendra , have been recorded. ED also claimed that they have recorded the statement of a person who informed the agency that Deshmukh’s son Hrishikesh had transferred cash through hawala to Delhi, and the same was then diverted to the trust funds through various companies claiming it to be donation to the trust.