A day after raids, ex-Maharashtra minister Chhagan Bhujbal booked for money laundering

  • HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times, Mumbai
  • Updated: Jun 17, 2015 23:11 IST

A day after the Anti-Corruption Bureau searched 16 of their properties across Maharashtra, the Enforcement Directorate on Wednesday registered two cases against NCP leader Chhagan Bhujbal and his associates under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA), 2002.

The ED registered two enforcement case information reports (ECIR) against Bhujbal, his son Pankaj, nephew Sameer and others; one is in connection with the Maharashtra Sadan scam and a multi-crore construction scam involving a prime plot at Kalina, and the other is related to a housing project at Kharghar. The Navi Mumbai police had on June 13 filed an FIR against Bhujbal, his son and nephew for allegedly cheating investors in the Khaghar project.

“We have registered one PMLA case for the two cases (Maharashtra Sadan and Kalina plot scams) registered by the ACB while a separate case has been filed for the case registered by the Navi Mumbai police,” said a high-ranking ED officer, who did not wish to be named.

An ED source said the agency would analyse the finances of individuals, companies and other entities associated with the Bhujbals. “All those accused in the ACB cases are accused in our cases as well,” said the officer.

Sources said that the Maharashtra Sadan scam had earned the developer an estimated Rs 749 crore, and the Kalina case Rs 88 crore. “This is what the initial investigations have revealed. We are also investigating aspects such as abuse of power and corruption. Based on our analysis, we will decide the course of action, such as recording the statements of the accused and seeking explanations about their sources of income,” said the ED officer, who added that the list of suspects could grow.

“Whoever figures in our investigation of the money trail will be questioned as and when necessary,” the officer added.

Bhujbal denied the allegations against him. "The speed at which the investigation is going on, it is very good. What should I say about it? One after the other wrong allegations are levelled against me," he said.

"Wrong information against me is given to the media. My political opponents who have a selfish motive come up with some wrong information against me every day," he added.

In December 2014, the high court gave the ACB its go-ahead to conduct an inquiry against Bhujbal. Following this, the ACB set up a special investigation team, which worked in co-ordination with the ED. The ACB has since recorded the statements of Bhujbal, his nephew Sameer and son Pankaj.

The Navi Mumbai police, on Saturday, had booked Bhujbal in the case involving an amount of Rs 44 crore. It concerns 2,300 people who had booked houses in the project 'Hex World' promoted by a realty company owned by the Bhujbal family at Kharghar, Navi Mumbai.

A group of 25-30 people, waiting for the housing project to take off for four years, had approached the court over the delay in its construction.

The FIR, filed at the Taloja Police Station in Navi Mumbai, named Bhujbal, his son Pankaj, and nephew Samir in the case. They were booked under IPC sections related to cheating, criminal conspiracy, criminal breach of trust and relevant provisions of Maharashtra Ownership Flats Act.

Last week, the Maharashtra anti-corruption bureau (ACB) had registered two FIRs against Bhujbal, the first related to alleged irregularities in allotment of a prime plot at Kalina in Mumbai to a developer.

On Tuesday, the ACB had conducted raids on the properties owned by NCP leader and former state PWD and tourism minister Chhagan Bhujbal and his family members in Mumbai, Thane, Pune and Nashik. The raids were conducted in connection with the Maharashtra Sadan scam in New Delhi and other allegations of corruption against Bhujbal.

(With PTI inputs)

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