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Updated on: Monday, November 01, 2021, 11:13 PM IST

Money Laundering case: Maharashtra minister Anil Deshmukh appears before ED; questions Param Bir Singh's 'whereabouts'

Former Maharashtra home minister Anil Deshmukh | ANI

Former Maharashtra home minister Anil Deshmukh | ANI

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Former Maharashtra home minister Anil Deshmukh, who earlier skipped five Enforcement Directorate (ED) summons, finally appeared before the agency on Monday for questioning in a money laundering case registered against him and others.

He arrived at the ED office at Ballard Estate around 11.40 am accompanied by his lawyer and his associates. Deshmukh, 71, appeared before the agency after the Bombay High Court last week refused to quash these summons.

Deshmukh’s statement was recorded till late Monday night in connection with the criminal investigation being carried out by the ED in the alleged Rs 100 crore bribery-cum-extortion racket in the Maharashtra Police establishment that led to Deshmukh's resignation in April. The ED wanted to enquire with Deshmukh regarding the suspicious transaction of Rs 4.18 crore involving a Nagpur-based trust, and also the allegations made by now dismissed Assistant Police Inspector Sachin Vaze in his statement to the ED.

The agency had recorded the statement of Vaze while he was lodged at Taloja jail on May 19 and May 21, and he claimed that he was getting “direct instructions” from Deshmukh in different police cases.

“Vaze stated that he was called by Deshmukh at his official residence and was asked to collect Rs 3 lakh a month from bars and restaurants, and was handed over the list of bar owners. He arranged for meetings with various bar owners and stated that he had collected around Rs 4.7 crore from them between December 2020 and February 2021. He said he had handed over the money to Kundan Shinde, the then personal assistant of Deshmukh on latter’s instructions in two installments in January and February 2021,” the ED had said in its remand application filed in June.

In September, the ED had moved an application at the Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Court against Deshmukh for non-compliance of ED summons under Section 174 (non-attendance in obedience to an order from public servant) of the Indian Penal Code, after Deshmukh had failed to appear before the agency despite five summons being served to him. Earlier, on July 18, the ED had carried out searches at Deshmukh’s house in Katol, near Nagpur, and his family home at Wadvihira village, near Katol. The next day, Deshmukh had issued a video statement and had informed that once the outcome of his petition in the Supreme Court was known, he will appear before the ED and get his statement recorded.

Also in July, the ED had also provisionally attached assets worth Rs 4.20 crore of Deshmukh and his kin, held in the name of his wife Aarti and the company, Premier Port Links Private Limited, under Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA). The attached assets were in the form of an apartment in Worli, valued at Rs 1.54 crore, and 25 land parcels of book value of Rs 2.67 crore, located in Dhutum village in Uran.

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 Deshmukh’s personal secretary, Sanjeev Palande, and personal assistant Kundan Shinde under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act and had filed a charge-sheet in the court in the matter.

DESHMUKH RELEASES VIDEO

Deshmukh released a video before going to the ED office in which he said that he himself is deposing before the agency after the Bombay HC order came last week. “It was reported in the media that I was not cooperating with the ED. I went to the CBI twice after I was summoned. My petition is still pending in the Supreme Court but it will take time and hence I myself have gone to the ED,” he said. “I and my family cooperated with the ED when they raided us (in June),” he said.

Deshmukh questioned the whereabouts of former Mumbai Police Commissioner Param Bir Singh, saying he made the bribery allegations against me but where is he now? The Bombay High Court, in its judgment issued on October 29, said Deshmukh failed to prove that probe agencies had been acting in a mala fide manner against him. It said if Deshmukh apprehended his arrest by either the ED or the CBI, he had the right that was available to any other citizen or litigant to approach the appropriate court to seek protection.

The court, however, directed the ED to permit Deshmukh's lawyer to remain present within “visible distance but not audible distance” during the questioning.

Deshmukh, while denying any wrongdoing, had maintained that Singh made the allegations against him after he was removed from the post of Mumbai Police Commissioner.

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Published on: Monday, November 01, 2021, 11:13 PM IST
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