The Enforcement Directorate (ED) has filed a criminal case with Worli police in the case wherein some of its contractual staffers allegedly providing case-related information/documents, in lieu of bribes, to close associate of a key accused in its money laundering probe related to Pune’s Seva Vikas Co-operative Bank.
The police have registered a case against eight people, including the bank’s ex-chairman Amar Mulchandani, his close associate Bablu Sonkar and accused ED contractual staffers Vishal Kudekar and Yogesh Waghule.
According to the police, the complainant in the case is Atul Jaiswal, deputy director (administration) at ED’s Mumbai Zonal Office. The ED is investigating an offence of money laundering against Mulchandani, a resident of Pimpri, Pune, and others under provisions of Prevention of Money Laundering Act. He is allegedly involved in a massive bank fraud of Rs429 crore.
Search conducted at the premises of Mulchandani and his family
On March 22, one witness, a resident of Pimpri, was examined by the Investigation Officer, Praduman Sharma, Assistant Director, and his team. While his statement was being recorded it was learned that Sonkar was lurking around the ED office at 3rd floor of Ceejay House, Worli. He was not summoned by the ED and he had no business entering Ceejay House. It is worthwhile to mention that a search was earlier conducted in the instant case on January 27, at the premises of Mulchandani and his family.
“During the course of the search Mulchandani’s family members intentionally obstructed the entry of search team for three hours and thereafter opened the door. The ED team was given to understand that Mulchandani was absent, and the remaining five family members lied and tried to mislead the search team at the behest of the Mulchandani,” Jaiswal stated in his complaint to the police.
ED team breaks the locks of the room
“It was subsequently found that Mulchandani along with his associate Bablu Sonkar was hiding for six hours in a room locked from inside in the same premise. The ED team could reach them only after breaking the locks of the said room. In this extra time, Mulchandani had destroyed the data on his mobile phones. An FIR was registered with Pimpri police station on January 28 and six persons of Mulchandani family were arrested by police.”
“It has been observed that whenever summons are issued to any important witness in this case, Sonkar was illegally accompanying them to the ED office and was lurking in close proximity. Mulchandani and his family members have been extremely non-cooperative with the investigation and even though they are not appearing before ED on flimsy medical grounds, every now and then the said Sonkar was still found roaming around the ED office. In the past also the investigating team had seen him roaming around and trespasing the office premises and speaking to various accused persons, witnesses who appeared in the case. The investigating officer of the case had warned him for roaming unnecessarily in the
office and not to try to influence the persons coming to office,” Jaiswal claimed.
Sonkar was once again found involved in suspicious activities
“On March 22, at 07.30pm, Sonkar was once again found involved in suspicious activities in the vicinity of ED office. The matter was reported to me by the investigating team. I asked the team to produce him in my chamber on the same floor of the office. When enquired he stated that he had come inside the office for the purpose of providing food to the witness. However, the witness refused to recognise Sonkar. On further examination Sonkar divulged that he has been deputed by Mulchandani to spy on the ED officials/staff to get the secret documents/information regarding the ongoing investigation. Then he confessed that Mulchandani was giving him large sums of money and by using them he has managed to influence contractual staff posted inside ED office and persuaded them to illegally assist him in stealing secret office documents and send them on WhatsApp to people outside the office," the statement further said.
Thereafter, the matter was brought on record in the money-laundering case and after issuance of summons, Sonkar’s statement was recorded and his mobile phone was examined and it was found that he was in touch with Vishal Kudekar, contractual staff of the ED office on his mobile. It was also found that Sonkar had thus managed to steal copy of statements of various members of Mulchandani family through WhatsApp with the assistance of Kudekar. Sonkar had paid Rs 13,000 to Kudekar for this assistance. He had also paid Rs40,000 to a contractual driver of ED to keep illegal surveillance on ED office. He transmitted the stolen documents to other accused persons, Jaiswal's statement further read.
Sonkar, Kudekar and Yogesh Wagule were arrested on March 23 under the provisions of PMLA for the involvement in the process of laundering of proceeds of crime and deriving undue benefits. They have been remanded to judicial custody by PMLA court till April 11. “But after holding internal deliberations, it is felt necessary that a separate police FIR should be filed to unearth the role of all the involved persons for their acts,” the statement added.
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