Mumbai: For the first time in the history of Maharashtra politics, NCP chief Sharad Pawar has been named in an ECIR (an enforcement case investigation report) filed by the Enforcement Directorate, in the Rs 25000 crore Maharashtra State Cooperative Bank scam.
An ECIR is similar to an FIR and the specific charge is under the provisions of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act.
Also in the pillory are nephew Ajit Pawar, Diliprao Deshmukh, Isharlal Jain, Jayant Patil, Shivajirao Nalawade, Anandrao Adsul, Rajendra Shingane and Madan Patil. A former chairman of the MSC bank and other top brass have also been mentioned in the case.
The ED has taken cognisance of an FIR registered by the Economic Offences Wing (EOW) of the Mumbai Police. The initial FIR registered by the EOW, in accordance with the orders of the Bombay High Court, did not mention Sharad Pawar’s name; it had cropped up later in the additional statements recorded by the police.
Interestingly, Pawar’s name was also not mentioned in the writ petition filed by complainant Surinder Arora. He was also not named as an accused in the FIR registered at the MRA Marg police station.
However, as per advocate Satish Talekar,
who represents Arora, Pawar has been named in the additional statements of the complainant.
“We had not made Pawar a party in our criminal PIL before the High Court. We named him only in the additional statements recorded before the EOW,” Talekar said.
Notably, the complaint mentions Sharad Pawar’s name in a paragraph, stating, “The mismanagement (of the bank) was not inadvertent but pre-planned and schemed as the persons in the then state government, the persons at the helm of affairs of the financial institutions etcetera, were the same people, all set to tear apart the cooperative sector to fill their treasuries.
All this took place under the implicit direction of Sharad Pawar, who was holding the reins of all the pillars of the cooperative sector in the state.”
The ED took cognizance of the EOW case, probably due to the ‘request’ of the complainant, who had claimed that if the state police probes the case, it might not be ‘fair and impartial.’
“The state police are always under the control of political bosses. Although most of the accused belong to the NCP and the Shiv Sena, there are a few who also belong to the BJP.
All the accused are extremely politically influential,” the complainant Arora said in his plaint. The case pertains to the alleged scam that caused a loss of Rs 1,000 crore to the MSCB between 2007 and 2011.
As per the complaint, Pawar and senior NCP leader Jayant Patil, Vijaysinh Mohite-Patil and bureaucrats from 34 district banks caused the loss to the public exchequer by illegally sanctioning loans for their own relatives.
The complaint also claims that the accused gifted several sugar factories at throwaway prices, and that too without inviting any tenders. The complainant has also accused them of violating the provisions of the SARFAESI Act.
WELCOME, SAYS PAWAR
NCP Chief Sharad Pawar, in his signature style, "welcomed" the government move. He also said that the move was an inevitable fall out of his recent political tours.
"If the government has filed any FIR against me, I will welcome this. But I was never a director of any bank," he said. He also made it clear that he has not received any notice from ED.
The move has all the portents of a political potboiler with sources indicating that Baramati may observe a bandh in protest against the EC action, which could be the precursor to a state-wide agitation.
There were several irregularities in the sanctioning of loans, with the purpose of extending benefits to the directors of the lending bank. No collateral was taken in many cases and loans were extended on the basis of fraudulent and dishonest presenta-tion to the bank.
By Debasish Panigrahi / Narsi Benwal