ED Attaches ₹50.20 Cr Worth Properties Of Kannad SSK Linked To Rohit Pawar's Baramati Agro Ltd In MSCB Scam

ED Attaches ₹50.20 Cr Worth Properties Of Kannad SSK Linked To Rohit Pawar's Baramati Agro Ltd In MSCB Scam

The ED took action under PMLA in the MSCB scam case related to the allegedly illegal sale of sugar mills by the Maharashtra State Co-operative Bank (MSCB) to M/s Baramati Agro Ltd.

Ashish SinghUpdated: Saturday, March 09, 2024, 01:58 AM IST
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Rohit Pawar | FPJ

The Enforcement Directorate (ED)  has provisionally attached properties worth Rs 50.20 crore of  Kannad  Sahakari Sakhar Karkhana (K SSK) belonging to Baramati Agro Ltd which is owned by Sharad Pawar's grandnephew and MLA  Rohit Pawar. The ED took action under PMLA in the MSCB scam case related to the allegedly  illegal sale of sugar mills by the  Maharashtra State Co-operative Bank (MSCB) to M/s Baramati Agro Ltd.

The attached assets consist of 161.30 acres of land, plant and machinery and building of the sugar unit in Kannad region of Chhatrapati Sambhaji  Maharaj  district in Maharashtra. The agency has already questioned Rohit Pawar twice for a total of 18 hours, on January 24th and February 1st, in this case.

More details of the case

Before this, in January, the agency had raided premises linked to Baramati Agro. Searches were also carried out on the premises of Kannad Sahakari Sakhar Karkhana in Chhatrapati Sambhaji Maharaj district , two offices of Baramati Agro in Pimpali in Baramati, the premises of Hitech Engineering Corporation, and places belonging to Rajesh Ingavle and Sanjay Avan (both linked to Hitech Engineering) and premises of another firm Samruddhi Sugar Mill.

The interesting aspect is that even though the Economic Offences Wing (EOW) of Mumbai police had recently filed its second closure report in this case in January 2024 the ED, which took over the probe from the EOW, is pursuing the matter.  The EOW has claimed that, after further investigation into the issues raised by the complainant, no evidence was found against the office bearers of the MSCB  Bank. The court will hear the complainant Surinder Arora before accepting the closure report.  (Mr Arora had filed a petition in Bombay high court.)

A notice was served to the complainant for reply on the closure report, which is still pending. The ED wanted to intervene in the case but court has asked the agency to argue on maintainability at the next hearing.

The ED stated in their statement that the agency initiated an investigation into the alleged scam based on an FIR registered by the Mumbai Police Economic Offences Wing under various sections of the IPC and the Prevention of Corruption Act. The FIR was registered in pursuance of the Bombay High Court's order dated August 22, 2019.

Allegations in the FIR and findings of the investigation

The FIR alleges that the SSKs (sugar mills) were fraudulently sold by the then officials and directors of MSCB at throwaway prices to their relatives and private persons without following due procedure.

Later during ED's money laundering investigation it was revealed that to recover the outstanding loan of Rs 80.56 Crore of M/s Kannad SSK Limited, MSCB took possession of all the assets of said SSK on July 13, 2009 under SARFAESI Act. On August 30, 2012, MSCB conducted auction of Kannad SSK by fixing very low reserve price based on a questionable valuation report.

Apart from M/s Baramati Agro Ltd, which is owned by Rohit Pawar, two other parties entered into the bidding process. The bidder with the highest bid was technically disqualified on allegedly flimsy ground, whereas the other bidder Hitech was already a close business associate of M/s Baramati Agro Ltd. with no financial capacity or experience of running a sugar unit, the agency stated on Friday.

Earlier in this case, three provisional attachment orders have been issued where assets acquired at Rs 121.47 crore have been attached. A main and two supplementary prosecution complaints have been filed by the agency in the Special PMLA Court, Mumbai for wrongful acquisition of three other Sahakari Sakhar Karkhana (SSKs). The Court has taken cognizance of all the prosecution complaints filed in this case. 

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