Mumbai: While the Enforcement Directorate (ED) recently submitted its first charge-sheet in its money-laundering case related to the alleged fraudulent sale of Satara’s Jarandeshwar Sahkari Sugar Karkhana (Jarandeshwar SSK) in 2010 by the then MSCB (Maharashtra State Co-operative Bank) officials, its investigation into the real beneficiaries of the proceeds of crime and the role of other persons is still underway.
The agency has so far only named three accused, including the factory’s then buyer, Guru Commodity Services Pvt Ltd (GCSPL), its chartered accountant, and the firm to which it was subsequently leased to, Jarandeshwar Sugar Mills Private Limited (JSMPL).
The accused firms allegedly influenced the then MSCB officials, according to the ED. The agency is verifying allegations that another firm, Sparkling Soil Pvt Ltd, which had then held majority shares of JSMPL, was linked to NCP leader and former deputy chief minister Ajit Pawar, agency sources said.
ED probe based on Mumbai Police EOW FIR
The ED’s probe was initiated on the basis of a First Information Report, dated August 26, 2019, registered by Mumbai Police’s Economic Offence Wing (EOW) under various sections of the Indian Penal Code including criminal conspiracy and cheating and the Prevention of Corruption Act. The EOW’s case was registered in pursuance of an August 22, 2019 order of the Bombay High Court.
The EOW FIR had alleged that several SSKs were fraudulently sold by the then officials and directors of MSCB at throwaway prices to their relatives/private persons without following the due procedure prescribed under the Securitisation and Reconstruction of Financial Assets and Enforcement of Security Interest Act,”an ED official said.
“Investigations conducted under PMLA revealed that the MSCB had conducted the auction of Jarandeshwar SSK in the year 2010 at an undervalued price, Rs65.75 crore, and without following the due procedure. Ajit Pawar was one of the prominent and influential members of the board of directors of MSCB at the relevant time,” the official said.
ED attached Jarandeshwar SSK properties in July 2021
The agency had in July 2021, provisionally attached the properties – including land, building/structure and plant -machinery – of the Jarandeshwar SSK. The assets were held in the name of GCSPL and leased to JSMPL. The ED had then claimed that Sparkling Soil held the majority shares of JSMPL and its investigations had revealed that the former was allegedly related to Pawar and his wife Sunetra. Pawar and Sunetra were not named as accused.
Since no charge sheet has been filed by the predicate agency in the case, the ED’s probe is on to identify the real beneficiaries of the company, JSMPL, according to the agency. The ownership and shareholding pattern of JSMPL has changed a number of times over the last several years and the exact relationship between JSMPL and GCSPL is also being investigated further to track the end recipients of the proceeds of crime, sources said.