Security of ED office to be beefed up ahead of Varsha Raut’s questioning

The security outside the Enforcement Directorate (ED) office is to be beefed up ahead of questioning of Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut's wife, Varsha, who is slated to arrive before the agency after being summoned to join investigation in the Punjab and Maharashtra Co-operative (PMC) Bank scam case.

The ED officials are reportedly scanning the documents linked to the scam. Under scrutiny are loans or dues of Varsha Raut. A loan transaction with the wife of an accused in the case is being probed by the agency and an explanation in this regard is likely to be sought during the questioning. The declaration in Sanjay Raut’s election affidavit also mentions the dues.

As Monday witnessed political leaders of the ruling Shiv Sena-led Maha Vikas Aghadi and the Opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) taking pot-shots against each other, a few people put up a banner outside the ED’s Mumbai office in Ballard Estate declaring it the Maharashtra branch of the BJP.

“I do not have any orders from anyone and I am putting this poster from my heart. This ED office now appears to be a BJP office,” said the man who put up the poster while identifying himself as Santosh Keer. The poster was soon pulled down by the police.

The agency is scanning the financial records for further investigation. "There are several transactions. The total amount is yet to be ascertained," said a high-ranking officer privy to the investigation. This will be for the first time Raut’s name has been linked with the multi-crore scam which has been probed by the Economic Offences Wing’s (EOW) special investigation team (SIT) and the ED.

The ED charge sheet filed in the case mentions the “ever-greening” of loans, which is a term for banks propping up ailing companies with fresh loans even as these firms struggle to repay old debts. Over 73 per cent of PMC Bank’s loan exposure was to HDIL, the ED probe revealed.

According to the first information report (FIR) registered by EOW on September 30 last year, the accused bank officials have admitted to not classifying loans on which HDIL had defaulted as non-performing assets. Investigations have revealed 44 suspicious loan accounts linked to HDIL. Using 20,149 fictitious bank accounts, whose individual balances were low, the bank covered up the HDIL group of companies defaulting on payments.

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