Eknath Khadse, former Maharashtra revenue minister, was questioned by the officials of the Enforcement Directorate (ED) for over nine hours on Thursday. The agency had issued summons to Khadse on Wednesday, asking him to appear before the ED and get his statement recorded in connection with a money laundering case related to the Pune land deal case being probed by the agency. The ED had arrested Khadse's son-in-law Girish Chaudhary in the case on Wednesday.
Khadse reached around 11 am at the ED office at Ballard Estate and left around 8:30 pm. ED sources said that they had questioned Khadse with regards to the agency's findings in the probe of the land deal case.
According to the ED, an ECIR was recorded under the provisions of Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) on August 28, 2019 against Eknath Khadse, his wife Mandakini, son in law Girish Chaudhary and one Abbas Ukani, on the basis of an FIR filed by the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) Pune against them under the provisions of Prevention of Corruption Act, alleging therein that land grab of a plot at Bhosari, Pune, belonging to MIDC and causing a loss to the exchequer to the tune of Rs 61.25 crore by fraudulently entering into sale deed.
"As per the ACB's FIR, the revenue minister (Khadse) had purchased the said property through his wife and son-in-law, which was admittedly acquired by MIDC and the wife and son-in-law of the revenue minister shall then apply for the compensation of the said property to the Revenue Authorities and receive compensation of more than double the market rate of the said property," the ED claimed in their remand application while seeking Chaudhary's custody from court.
In its remand application, ED had alleged that, "In furtherance of criminal conspiracy, Khadse mobilised the revenue officer to acquire the above said land by MIDC. So that the family of the revenue minister shall file the compensation of the said land before the Revenue Authorities to get the compensation which is more then two times of the market value of the said property. As per the FIR, as per valuation provided by the Sub-Registrar, comes to Rs 31.01 crores. However, it appears that Khadse, by abusing and misusing his official position has coerced and forced the concerned registration officials to reflect the market value of the said land in the Index II as Rs 3.75 crore. As a result, Khadse, his wife and his son-in-law have suppressed the true market value of the said land from the public and caused to be made illegal changes/alterations in government records. The act of deleting and omitting the true market value of the said property in the records by Sub-Registrar and reflecting the compromised market value prima-facie reflects a criminal act of tempering and forging a valuable security by Sub-Registrar on the instruction of the revenue minister."
During the PMLA investigation, ED had recorded a statement of Eknath Khadse on January 15, 2021, in which he had stated that he was not aware of the said land deal and the same was done by his wife Mandakini and son in law Girish Chaudhary.