The Enforcement Directorate (ED) on Wednesday filed a charge sheet against NCP leader Chhagan Bhujbal and 52 others, including his son Pankaj and nephew Sameer, for alleged money-laundering in the Maharashtra Sadan scam and the Bhujbal-promoted Hex World housing project in Navi Mumbai. A supplementary charge sheet may be filed in the future over the Kalina housing scam, in which the Bhujbals allegedly cheated prospective flat buyers of Rs 44 crore. Bhujbal and Sameer have been arrested by the ED and are currently in judicial custody.
A high-ranking ED officer said, “Chhagan Bhujbal is the main accused as he was a powerful minister in the Maharashtra government. This would not have been possible without him.”
An ED source said the charge sheet, which runs into thousands of pages, contains evidence in form of bank-statement analyses, statements of employees of the Mumbai Educational Trust that implicate Bhujbal, an income tax report on the financial health of companies promoted by the Bhujbals, and reports of the Registrars of Companies (ROC).
The source added that government employees booked in the case have not been named as accused yet as there is no direct evidence that they were involved in money-laundering. “They (government employees) have not been named yet but it does not mean that they have been given a clean chit. Investigations are still in progress and we are collecting evidence,” the source said.
The charge sheet provides a detailed account of how the Bhujbals allegedly laundered money through a maze of Kolkata-based companies. “We have incorporated statements of the Kolkata-based operators, who have also been accused in the case,” the source added.
HT was the first to report that the anti-corruption bureau (ACB) had found that several firms in Kolkata, said to have invested in companies allegedly promoted by the Bhujbals and their associates, were bogus and may have been used for money laundering.
The ED’s charge sheet alleges that the accused netted Rs 870 crore from the crimes. “Assets worth Rs 131.86 crore have been provisionally attached by ED. The attached assets include flats, bungalows, fixed deposits, land, buildings and a sugar factory,” said an ED officer.