PMC Bank scam case: Sanjay Raut's wife Varsha arrives at ED office in Mumbai

Varsha Raut, wife of Shiv Sena member of Parliament Sanjay Raut, arrived before the Enforcement Directorate (ED) for recording her statement on Monday afternoon.

Earlier, Varsha had sought time from the agency till January 5. The agency is probing a case against Varsha for allegedly receiving an interest-free loan of Rs 55 lakh from Madhuri, wife of accused Pravin Raut.

This money was then used to purchase a flat in Dadar. The agency has alleged that the loan amount was acquired from the funds siphoned off from the multi-crore Punjab and Maharashtra Co-operative (PMC) Bank scam case, which has been touted as one of the biggest banking frauds in recent history.

Sanjay Raut has earlier denied all the allegations.

The summons has led to political leaders of the ruling Shiv Sena-led Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) and the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) taking pot-shots against each other, a few even putting up a banner outside the ED’s Mumbai office in Ballard Estate declaring it the Maharashtra branch of the BJP.

The case took a sensational twist on Friday as ED stated that they have provisionally attached properties worth ₹72 crores belonging to Pravin Raut under Prevention of Money Laundering Act, 2002 (PMLA) in the PMC bank scam case. Pravin Raut has been associated with Guruashish Constructions which linked to the Housing Development Infrastructure Limited (HDIL). Over 73% of PMC bank’s loan exposure was to HDIL, the ED probe revealed.

Pravin Raut was arrested by Economic Offences Wing (EOW) in February this year in connection with alleged irregularities in a redevelopment project allotted by the Maharashtra Housing and Area Development Authority (MHADA). The ED has alleged that Madhuri Raut provided loans to Varsha Raut from "proceeds of crime". The PMLA defines proceeds of crime as “any property derived or obtained, directly or indirectly, by any person as a result of criminal activity relating to a scheduled offence or the value of any such property”.

“Investigation under PMLA revealed that ₹95 crore has been siphoned off through HDIL by one of the accused Pravin Raut in active conspiracy and connivance with various persons. The source of the funds were illegal availed loans/advances etc. by HDIL from PMC Bank. There was no document/agreement etc. in support of these payments made to Pravin Raut,” the anti-money laundering agency said on Friday.

It added, “Further, as per the ledger of M/s. HDIL, the funds were given to Pravin Raut for acquiring land in the Palghar area. Investigation also revealed that Pravin Raut paid an amount of ₹1.6 crore to his wife Madhuri Pravin Raut from the proceeds of crime. Out of the said money, Madhuri Raut transferred ₹55 lakh (₹50 lakh on 23.12.2010 and ₹5 lakh on 15.03.2011) as interest free loan to Varsha Raut, wife of Sanjay Raut. The amount was further utilised for purchase of flat in Dadar (east), Mumbai. Investigation further revealed that Varsha Sanjay Raut and Madhuri Pravin Raut are partners in M/s. Avani Construction. Varsha Sanjay Raut has received ₹12 lakh from this entity (as overdrawn capital converted to loan) on a contribution of mere ₹5625. The loan amount of ₹12 lakh is still remains outstanding.”

According to ED, investigation under PMLA was initiated on the basis of FIR registered by EOW of Mumbai Police under sections 409, 420,465,466,471 read with 120 B of IPC against HDIL, promoter Rakesh Kumar Wadhawan, his son Sarang Wadhawan, former chairman Waryam Singh, former managing director of PMC Bank Joy Thomas and others for causing loss to the tune of ₹4355 crores to PMC Bank and corresponding gain to themselves. PMC Bank depositors had spent last year holding protests, meeting politicians and writing to various authorities in an effort to get their hard-earned money back.

Earlier, ED has attached several properties of Rakesh Kumar Wadhawan, Wadhawan family trust and others totalling to ₹293 crore and jewelry worth ₹63 crores has been seized. A prosecution complaint has been filed in this case against Rakesh Kumar Wadhawan and others for the offence of money laundering under PMLA, 2002.

Pravin Raut was arrested in connection with the redevelopment of Patrawala Chawl in Goregaon which has been delayed and mired in controversies since 2007 after an agreement was signed with Guruashish Construction Private Limited.

In 2007, MHADA allowed a developer to redevelop and rehabilitate 672 chawl tenants. However, it received complaints that he sold parts of land to other builders. It has been over a decade that the residents have handed over their homes to the builder for redevelopment. The redevelopment work stopped in 2015 and residents have not been paid any rent for the past five years. MHADA has alleged that the developer did not complete the project and instead allotted the redevelopment of the plot to nine different developers for over 1000 crore. No consent was taken from the authority and there were violations as per the agreement. The housing department had received numerous complaints from residents that the firm had given the developer’s sale component in the project to another developer.

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