Shiv Sena legislator Pratap Sarnaik has been issued fresh summons by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) in connection with a money-laundering case.
The agency has asked the leader to appear before the agency on Thursday. The ED has arrested one Amit Chandole, 46, a Thane resident November 25 in the case involving alleged misappropriations in a contract bagged by Tops Grup with the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA). The ED during arguments in court had referred to Chandole as Sarnaik’s confidante.
Sarnaik’s son Vihang has also been issued multiple summons in the case but is yet to appear before the agency for questioning. Vihang, an active member of the Yuva Sena, Sena's youth wing, was taken to the ED office from the family residence after the ED conducted searches on the premises linked to the family last month. Sarnaik who was out of town then has been in quarantine since which will end this week.
The ED, referring to the statements recorded in the case, had earlier told the court that “it appears that Tops Grup obtained a contract from MMRDA in collusion with Sarnaik through illegal means by a well thought out strategy. The aim of these illegal maneuvers was to get additional inadmissible benefits by inflating the bills. The agency also conducted searches at Tops Grup’s Goregaon office. Sarnaik is the Sena MLA from the Ovala-Majiwada constituency.
The ED searches on properties linked with Sarnaik led to a war of words between the Maha Vikas Aghadi partners and the BJP. Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut has termed ED action political vendetta saying that the Maharashtra government or its leaders would not surrender to pressure from anyone. Without naming the BJP, he said it should forget the dream of coming to power in Maharashtra for the next 25 years, "no matter how much pressure it exerts or spreads terror through agencies".
As per the FIR filed by Ramesh Iyer from Tops Grup, Rahul Nanda, promoter and chairman of the group, and other connected persons diverted huge funds from the account of Tops Grup companies to various accounts in India and to accounts of overseas companies. As per the allegations, the company was defrauded to the tune of Rs 175 crore. Nanda had earlier denied allegations.