Enforcement Directorate to move High Court to seek custody of Pratap Sarnaik's aide

The Enforcement Directorate (ED) is likely to move the Bombay High Court to seek custody of Amit Chandole, 46, who has been arrested in a money laundering case.

ED arrested Chandole, a Thane resident, on November 25 in a case involving alleged misappropriations in a contract bagged by Tops Group with the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA). The ED, during arguments in the court, had referred to Chandole as Shiv Sena legislator Pratap Sarnaik’s "confidante". Chandole was in ED custody and was produced before the special Prevention of Money Laundering (PMLA) court on November 29, after which he was sent to judicial custody. The ED had sought further custody of Chandole, but failed to get it. Subsequently, the agency is drawing plans to move to the higher court in this regard.

The agency is probing Chandole to investigate the financial trail. ED, referring to the statements recorded in the case, had earlier told the court that “it appears that Tops Group 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 ED had earlier told the court that Chandole used to collect the said profits on behalf of Sarnaik. The funds mostly used to be delivered in cash; and that one Miss Latika Randive used to maintain the records for the same and she used to coordinate with Chandole.

According to ED, the statement of Chandole has been recorded, wherein he stated that he came into contact with Rahul Nanda, promoter and chairman of the group through Sarnaik, who is his close friend. The ED has earlier told the court that Chandole, in his statement, said that there was a contract of Tops Group with MMRDA in which he was sharing 50% of the profit arising out of the contract. The contract was providing security to MMRDA lands and that there was no return agreement regarding sharing of 50% profit and it was oral based on trust only. The payment regarding 50% profit share was made to him in cash, which used to be given by Niraj Bijlani, who is the ex-CEO of Tops Group. Chandole added that he also used to get payments in NEFT and that the cash received from Tops Group used to be utilised towards household expenses.

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