The Maharashtra Sadan/RTO scam involving former deputy chief minister Chhagan Bhujbal, son Pankaj and nephew Sameer began as early as 1998, the Enforcement Directorate (ED) has stated in its voluminous charge sheet. It goes on to detail the complex maze of transactions the Bhujbals and their associates used to launder money.
The Bhujbals claim to be ignorant of the entire scam and have placed the blame on Sunil Karve, the founding trustee and vice-chairman of Mumbai Education Trust (MET), and Sunil Naik, their chartered accountant.
But Naik, in his detailed statement to the ED, has demolished all the claims made by the Bhujbals, and has stated ‘although all the business activities were looked after by Sameer Bhujbal, Chhagan was in full knowledge of all the activities as the chairman of MET. Chhagan was aware that the employees of MET were the directors of various companies of the group controlled by Sameer Bhujbal.’
Naik has told ED ‘he had arranged the finances of Parvesh Constructions and Armstrong Energy by way of share subscription at high premium against cash, and that he knew of certain operators controlling a number of companies having either their employees or dubious persons as directors.’
He claimed the addresses of these companies were fake or not correct and that depending on the finance required by the customer companies, these dubious companies took cash and transferred equivalent funds through cheque to the customer companies. In return, the operators, who have been named as Suresh Jajodia, Praveen Kumar, Sanjay Jai and CS Sarda, charged a commission ranging from 1% to 3%.
It was using this modus operandi that ‘Parvesh Constructions and Armstrong Energy purportedly sold their shares to various entities during the period 2007 to 2011 at a premium,’ records ED’s chargesheet.
‘The face value of the shares was Rs100 each and the premium ranged between Rs900 to Rs9,900 a share and that Armstrong Energy had sold approximately 50 lakh shares and collected Rs50 crore, while Parvesh Constructions had sold approximately 55 lakh shares and collected Rs75 crore.’
It was only at the instruction of Sameer that the quantum of finance required by the two companies was decided.
‘The funds received by the said two companies were used either for purchase of property or investment/transfer in other group companies and that the cash used to be handed over to the said operators or their associates at MET office,’ Naik has claimed in his statement.
Naik goes on to state that he had also made similar cash against cheque transactions on the instructions of Sameer with Micro Technologies Ltd and Spanco Telesystems. Micro Technologies was given Rs25 crore in cash, while Spanco Telesystems was given Rs7.50 crore, Naik told ED.
The source of the cash can be explained only by Chhagan or his nephew Sameer, Naik has recorded in his statement.