Mumbai: Within weeks of Ajit Pawar joining the BJP and Shiv Sena in the state government, his name has been dropped from the charge sheet in connection with the Maharashtra State Corporation Bank (MSCB) scam case. However, names of a few other NCP leaders have been newly added.
The central probe agency, the Enforcement Directorate (ED), has filed two supplementary chargesheets in a money-laundering investigation related to the scam. In March 2023, the ED had filed its first chargesheet against Guru Commodity Services Pvt Ltd, Jarandeshwar Sugar Mills Pvt Ltd, and chartered accountant Yogesh Bagrecha. The agency had then alleged links of Ajit Pawar and his wife to the two companies but they were not named then.
The first supplementary charge sheet has named NCP MLA Prajakt Tanpure, along with his father and ex-MLA Prasad Tanpure, former Congress state chief Ranjeet Deshmukh, Subhash Deshmukh, and two firms (Prasad Sugar and Allied Agro Products and Takshashila Securities Lrd) as the accused.
The chargesheet reveals that one Ram Ganesh Gadkari’s Sahkari Sakhar Karkhana (SSK) repeatedly availed credit facilities from MSCB but failed to repay the loans, resulting in significant losses. These accounts became non-performing assets (NPAs) in March 1997, with an outstanding amount of Rs71.46 crore. The loan amount was fixed at 26.32 crore but not disclosed in the auction advertisement, ultimately selling to M/s Prasad Sugar and Allied Agro Products Pvt Ltd for just Rs12.95 crore, well below the reserve price.
The Tanpures were allegedly involved in questionable activities regarding M/s Prasad Sugar, Allied Agro and MSCB. An investigation found that Prajakt Tanpure’s company was the only participant in an auction, but hadn’t paid a significant amount even after three years. MSCB’s lack of action might be linked to his father's influence, the charge sheet states.
Moreover, former Maharashtra minister Ranjeet Deshmukh’s son’s firm, M/s Takshashila Securities Pvt Ltd, purchased 110 acres of SSK land from Prasad Sugar and Allied Agro for Rs4.19 crore in a complex transaction involving multiple sale deeds. This deal received funding from Globe Construction Co., raising suspicions of an illegal land transaction conspiracy.
The second supplementary charge sheet indicates involvement of Arjun Khotkar, a close aide of Eknath Shinde. After potential losses, SSK failed to repay the loan it had availed from MSCB and was declared as an NPA on March 31, 2022. Up until September 9, 2008, Jalna SSK had an outstanding debt of Rs33.49 crore. To recover the dues, MSCB took possession of the said SSK in 2009 in accordance with the SARFAESI Act and conducted an auction with a reserve price of Rs42.18 crore.
Interestingly, only two parties, Tapadia Constructions in Aurangabad and Ajeet Seeds, participated in the auction, with Tapadia emerging as the highest bidder with an undervalued bid of Rs42.31 crore. An independent valuer appointed by the ED estimated that the value of Jalna SSK to be nearly Rs78 crore. As per the ED, Tapadia was essentially a proxy company that made the purchase using funds routed from M/s Arjun Sugar Industries Pvt Ltd, which was incorporated by Arjunrai Khotkar and his family.
Tapadia and Ajeet Seeds were found to be operating from the same building, and it appeared that the latter intentionally assisted Tapadia in winning the bid for Jalna SSK. Khotkar was allegedly behind this well planned conspiracy.
Arjun Khotkar served on the Board of Directors of MSCB from 1998 to 2004.
He held the position of director at Jalna SSK from 1997 to 2003.
ED found that Tapadia Construction did not start operation of the plant.
The owner, Juglikishor Tapadia, had no intention to run the sugar mill.
After a few months, Tapadia sold the SSK along with 235 acres of land to Arjun Sugar Industries.