Mumbai: The Enforcement Directorate (ED) on Monday conducted searches at three locations linked to Maharashtra state Transport Minister Anil Parab, a day after he was summoned by the ED in connection with the money laundering case against former Maharashtra Home Minister Anil Deshmukh. One of the premises searched was of Deputy Regional Transport Officer Bajrang Kharmate. ED had issued summons to Parab asking him to join the investigations on Tuesday.
According to the agency sources, Parab had come under the ambit of ED's probe after assistant police inspector (dismissed), Sachin Vaze, in April this year, had tried to submit a letter to the NIA court, in which he had alleged that the transport minister had asked him to extort Rs 50 crore from a private trust as well as Rs 2 crore each from 50 contractors listed with the BMC. Later in the day, Anil Parab held a press conference and had categorically denied all the claims and allegations made by Vaze in his letter.
"Bajrang Kharmate is Anil Parab's Sachin Vaze. My Complaint on Kharmate & RTO transfers corruption was forwarded by Hon Governor Bhagatsingh Koshyari to Lokayukta on 25 May 2021. Lokayukta has started inquiry on the same," BJP leader Kirit Somaiya alleged in a tweet on Monday.
On August 23, the ED had filed their first charge sheet in the court against Sanjeev Palande and Kundan Shinde - two staffers of Deshmukh, in connection with the case.
In the charge sheet, officials have submitted details of the money allegedly laundered through various shell companies. The agency had earlier claimed that Palande and Shinde were coordinating with now dismissed assistant police inspector Sachin Vaze and some other police officers to collect money illegally from bar owners, the agency officials said. Both Palande and Shinde are currently in jail.
“Investigation under PMLA revealed that Anil Deshmukh, while acting as Home Minister of State of Maharashtra, with dishonest intention has received illegal gratification of approximately Rs 4.70 crore in cash from various orchestra bar owners, through Sachin Vaze, then Assistant Police Inspector of Mumbai Police. Further, with the help of Delhi-based dummy companies, Deshmukh family laundered the tainted money of Rs 4.18 crore and projected it as untainted by showing the same as amount received in the Trust namely Shri Sai Shikshan Sanstha," the ED had claimed.
The ED had issued its fifth summons to Deshmukh and his son Hrishikesh on August 17, a day after the Supreme Court had told Deshmukh to go to the appropriate court for seeking interim relief from any coercive action by the ED. Deshmukh had skipped all five summons issued by the ED and had submitted a communication to the agency through his legal representative on August 2, stating that the investigations being carried out by the ED were neither fair, nor just or impartial. Deshmukh had, in an earlier video statement, said that he would appear before the ED to record his statement after the Supreme Court's decision over his petition. In his latest letter submitted to the agency on August 18, he had informed the agency that till the time appropriate orders were passed by the courts where he had sought lawful remedies, his statement could be recorded through any electronic medium of the agency’s choice.
On July 18, the ED had carried out searches at Deshmukh’s house in Katol, near Nagpur, and his ancestral home at Wadvihira village, near Katol. The following day, Deshmukh had issued a video statement and had informed that once the outcome of his petition in the apex court was known, he would visit the ED and get his statement recorded.
Last month, the ED had also provisionally attached assets worth Rs 4.20 crore of Deshmukh and his family, held in the name of his wife Aarti Deshmukh and the company Premier Port Links Private Limited under Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA). The attached assets were in the form of one residential flat valued at Rs 1.54 crore, located in Worli, and 25 land parcels of book value Rs 2.67 crore, located at Dhutum villages in Uran, Raigad district.
The ED had initiated a money-laundering investigation on May 11 on the basis of an FIR, under Section 120-B of the IPC and Section 7 of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988 registered by the CBI against Deshmukh and others for allegedly attempting to obtain undue advantage, for improper and dishonest performance of their public duty for collection of funds to achieve the target of Rs 100 crore per month from various bars, restaurants and other establishments in Mumbai.
On June 25, the ED had arrested Palande and Shinde under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act.