Eknath Khadse
Eknath Khadse

Mumbai: Former revenue minister Eknath Khadse’s son-in-law Girish Chaudhari has said that he is a scapegoat of a political conspiracy in a bail application he filed before a special court on Tuesday in the money laundering case related to a Pune MIDC land deal in which he was arrested early this month.

He had also contended in the application filed through his advocate Mohan Tekavde that the provisions of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) are not applicable to him. The court on Tuesday remanded him in judicial custody after the Enforcement Directorate (ED) exhausted all 14-days of custodial interrogation that was available to it and sought that he be remanded in the court’s custody.

It said during its probe it recorded the statement of one Mahendra Jain, a cloth commission agent, who stated that between 2017 and 2019 he delivered documents to Chaudhari at his home Pankaj Mahal in Churchgate. Then he would take back the signed documents. Jain has stated, the ED said, that he did this on the instructions of one Devesh Upadhyay, who used to look after the affairs of the firm Benchmark Buildcon. This is the firm that Chaudhari claims provided part of the capital through a loan to him to buy the Pune land. Jain has also taken the name of one late Om Prakash Sharda, who used to manage the company and had given a loan to Chaudhari. Sharda expired in approximately September to October 2016, Jain has said. It may be noted that the land deal took place in April 2016.

Earlier, the ED had stated that when questioned about the source of funds to buy the land, Chaudhari had mentioned one Om Prakash as the chief director of Benchmark Buildcon who was known to him since the early 2000s. It had further said that it found from the Registrar of Companies that no such person holds the post at the firm.

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