Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader Chhagan Bhujbal appeared before the Enforcement Directorate (ED) on Monday morning for questioning, in connection with the money laundering case filed against his family in the Maharashtra Sadan construction scam.
Bhujbal arrived at the directorate’s Ballard Pier office, where his supporters had gathered outside, raising slogans in support of their leader.
Bhujbal, it is alleged, received kickbacks for the construction of the new Maharashtra Sadan in New Delhi, and huge sums of money were credited to the account of Bhujbal Charitable Trust.
Last month, the ED questioned Chhagan’s son Pankaj Bhujbal in the case and also seized Pankaj’s passport to ensure he did not leave the country. ED had, on February 1, arrested Sameer Bhujbal -- nephew of Chhagan Bhujbal -- in a money laundering case in Mumbai after the agency conducted multiple searches in connection with its probe against Bhujbal and others.
The central agency had, in December, attached the Rs 160-crore land owned by Bhujbal in Kharghar, Navi Mumbai. They also attached properties worth Rs 110 crore belonging to Parvesh Construction, a real-estate firm jointly owned by Pankaj and Sameer.
ED sources stated investigations are underway “to trace the colossal proceeds of crime amounting to Rs 870 crore”.
The entire party and Sharad Pawar ji stands with Chhagan Bhujbal: Jitendra Awhad (NCP) pic.twitter.com/v218I0tK1P— ANI (@ANI_news) March 14, 2016
The ED registered two separate cases under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA), with the agency focusing on the ‘trail of money’ and ‘analysing the assets’.
The Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB), meanwhile, accused Bhujbal and others of engineering a land barter deal in favour of a private firm, Chamankar Builders, which built Maharashtra Sadan in New Delhi, the High Mount guest house and transport offices and residential quarters in Mumbai. The builder secured the right to develop a part of land in Mumbai, which could be sold in the open market.
The agency alleged that Chamankar was allowed to carry out the makeover of the Maharashtra Sadan and the RTO at Andheri, in lieu of FSI for a slum rehabilitation project in Andheri. The FIR stated that the move benefited the developer, KS Chamankar, but that the state suffered losses.
In December 2014, the high court gave the ACB its go ahead to conduct an inquiry against Bhujbal, following which a special investigation team was set up that worked in co-ordination with the ED. The ACB is looking into allegations of corruption and misuse of power while the ED is probing his financial dealings.