Smuggler-turned-Marathi film producer Ajeet Satam has allegedly fled after a special PMLA court issued a non-bailable warrant against him last month, in connection with a money laundering case investigated by the enforcement directorate (ED).
The ED registered a case against Satam in August 2014. It approached the special court on September 7, seeking that Satam’s anticipatory bail — granted in April 2015 — be cancelled as he continued to indulge in sandalwood smuggling.
Special PMLA judge P R Bhavake issued the warrant against Satam, acting on the ED’s plea.
The Bombay high court had earlier turned down Satam’s anticipatory bail application in a case of sandalwood smuggling registered at Uran police station last December. Satam was booked for stealing containers of red sandalwood weighing seven tonnes and worth Rs1.08 crore.
The ED is also investigating his film production activity. The agency summoned him in connection with the probe into his film production activities. However, these summons were not served as Satam is missing. The agency allegedly questioned Satam’s relatives regarding his whereabouts.
A school drop-out, Satam began his career as a customs agent for exports. He went on to become the richest red sandalwood smuggler in the country. Several cases of smuggling have been registered against him since 2000.
The directorate of revenue intelligence (DRI) registered a case against him in February 2012, for smuggling sandalwood weighing 201 metric tonnes. He was asked to pay a penalty of Rs110 crore and the sandalwood was confiscated by the agency. Satam, however, challenged the penalty. The case is pending before the magistrate court.
Satam had produced the Marathi movie ‘Welcome Zindagi’ in 2015 and wanted to finance Bollywood movies as well, sources added.