The Enforcement Directorate (ED) recently conducted verification at the plush La petite residence of the Bhujbals in Santacruz after issuing an eviction notice.
The verification at the nine-floor building in Santacruz was done to ascertain if the place had still been occupied. “The verification revealed that the premises are occupied and we have sent an eviction notice to vacate the premises peacefully,” said a high-ranking ED officer. Similar eviction notices have been issued for their properties in Navi Mumbai and an open plot in Bandra, sources said.
Another ED officer said, “The provisional attachment was confirmed by adjudicating authority after which ED is duty-bound to take its possession.”
The Adjudicating Authority (AA) under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) is designated to function as the first appellate authority against attachment of assets made by the ED under stringent money laundering laws. “The AA listens to both the parties following which a decision is taken,” said the officer.
In June 2015, the ED had registered two separate cases under PMLA, with the agency focusing on the “trail of money” and “analysing the assets”. The agency has arrested Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader Chhagan Bhujbal and his nephew Sameer in the case.
Recently, the central agency attached 22 properties of Bhujbal and his associates worth Rs 90 crore. The attached properties are based in Mumbai and Nashik. “The properties include flats in Mumbai, agricultural and non-agricultural lands, industrial and commercial plots. The market-value of the said property is around 90 crore.” said a high-ranking ED officer. With this, the total attachment of properties is now worth Rs 433 crore. HT had in the past reported about the central agency’s move to attach more properties in the case.
Other allegations of corruption
The agency is probing multiple allegations of alleged misuse of power and corruption. In the Maharashtra Sadan redevelopment case, the contract for the state guesthouse in the capital was not advertised and the contractor gave the sub-contract to companies owned by Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader Chhagan Bhujbal’s family members and friends. The private developer was allowed to carry out the makeover of the Maharashtra Sadan as well as the Andheri RTO in lieu of FSI for a slum rehabilitation project in Andheri
In Kalina land deal, Bhujbal and five others have been accused of allegedly causing huge losses to the state exchequer by illegally leasing out a prime plot at Kalina in Santacruz (East) to a private developer in the Kalina land deal.
In 2014, the state government gave the ACB a go-ahead to conduct an inquiry against Bhujbal. The anti-graft body set up a SIT, which worked in co-ordination with the ED.
ED investigations so far
- Sameer Bhujbal was the “mastermind behind sending Rs 25 crores to Indonesia in the guise of investment in coal mines.
- Bank accounts of companies allegedly promoted by the Bhujbals revealed that huge funds were given to firms controlled by the Bhujbals.
- Family is residing at Solitaire in Santacruz “when neither he nor his family is either office bearers, or shareholders in M/s Parvesh Construction Pvt Ltd, the developer of the said property”. The agency had also told the court that ‘Solitaire’ is “illegal” and “criminality involved in the matter needs to be investigated.”
- Sameer refused that certain private companies were not part of the Bhujbals. However, the directors of the said companies, in their statements, stated that they were directors for name sake only and signed documents, cheques and acted as per instruction of Sameer.
- More than Rs 24 crore were channelled by “adopting modis-operandi of providing cash against cheque by Sameer to various entities.” It is revealed that proceeds of such transaction have been channelled to M/s Parvesh Construction (firm allegedly promoted by Bhujbals) in the guise of real estate investment
- Sameer, in his statement to the ED, said they were into various businesses such as real estate, power generation and plantation farming and that the share sale at high premium of their companies were handled by one Sunil Naik, and that he had no role to play in this.