Amidst the ongoing war of words between the MVA government and the Centre over the role of central agencies, Enforcement Directorate (ED) attached Jarandeshwar Sahkari Sugar Karkhana (factory) in Maharashtra State Cooperative Bank (MSCB) scam.
The Jarandeshwar Sahkari Sugar Karkhana, located in Chimangaon-Koregaon and worth over Rs 65 crore, was attached under an anti-money laundering law in connection with the alleged Maharashtra State Cooperative Bank (MSCB) scam by the ED on Thursday, which also claimed that a company allegedly linked to Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar and his wife were involved in the matter. These allegations have been denied by Pawar.
What is the MSCB scam?
Accused in the MSCB case are several political leaders cutting across party lines who held positions as directors in district co-operative banks. These banks allegedly gave illegal loans to sugar factories and then sold the latter to their own kith and kin at throw-away prices when they were unable to repay the loans, thus causing loss to the bank.
What did Ajit Pawar say?
A day after the Enforcement Directorate (ED) slapped attachment orders on the Jarandeshwar cooperative sugar factory in Satara, Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar on Friday denied that he or his wife Sunetra were involved in any manner with the matter.
Speaking to media persons, the Deputy CM said that the sugar factory was sold as per the directions of the Bombay High Court and he was not connected in any manner with Guru Commodity Services Pvt Ltd, which won the bidding process to take over the factory.
"The allegations levelled against me are politically motivated. The Jarandeshwar matter has already been probed by various agencies but nothing has came out of it. The issue is being deliberately politicised, putting the future of many workers at stake. We are taking legal advice in the matter," said Ajit Pawar.
"The ED has a right to conduct an enquiry. Earlier, the state CID and ACB had probed the matter, while the EOW probe is on. Even a judicial probe was conducted in the matter. You're saying it's a scam. Please show me where it (scam) is," added Ajit Pawar, who is the nephew of Nationalist Congress Party President Sharad Pawar.
He added that the BVG Group had asked Guru Commodities to run the 'sick' factory, but the former incurred a Rs 5 crore loss in their first year of operations.
Accordingly, the company was taken over by one of Ajit Pawar's relatives, Rajendra Ghadge.
It was later expanded and a loan was taken for the project and it is being repaid, he added.
The assets of JSSK are owned by Guru Commodity Services Pvt Ltd and leased to Jarandeshwar Sugar Mills Pvt Ltd in which Sparkling Soil Pvt Ltd (SSPL) holds the majority shares.
During the ED investigation, it emerged that SSPL was linked to Ajit Pawar and his wife Sunetra, and the MSCB-conducted auction of JSSK in 2010 was done at undervalued prices without adhering to the due procedures.
At that time, Ajit Pawar was one of the prominent and influential MSCB board members, the ED said.
The ED contended that Guru Commodity Services was a 'dummy company' deployed to acquire the JSSK, which was actually under the control of the JSMPL.
The JSSK was later used as a vehicle by JSMPL to get a Rs 700 crore loan from the Pune District Central Cooperative Bank and others from 2010 till date.
It may be recalled that in September 2019, a month before the Maharashtra Assembly elections, the ED had created a sensation by registering a money-laundering case against Sharad Pawar and Ajit Pawar in connection with the alleged Rs 25,000 crore MSCB scam.
NCP national spokesperson and state minister Nawab Malik have deplored "the manner in which reports are being planted against the Deputy CM and his family", especially since the ED has already sealed the sugar factory and is taking further legal actions.
(With inputs from agencies)