The evidence against former deputy chief minister and Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader Chhagan Bhujbal, who was on Tuesday remanded in two-day custody of the enforcement directorate (ED) by the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) court, kept mounting, even as the leader cried political vendetta, and even felt dizzy in court.
Alleging that Bhujbal was not cooperating, the ED arrested Bhujbal on Monday night, after 10-hour long questioning in connection with a money laundering case in the Maharashtra Sadan scam.
The ED has found the Bhujbals floated bogus firms in the name of their driver, accountants, clerks and family friends to siphon off money, which cost the state exchequer approximately Rs870 crore.
Bhujbal’s complicity has been validated by a former employee of the Mumbai Educational Trust (MET), run by the Bhujbals. The employee has claimed he had seen cash being brought in leather bags to the MET office.
While the ED has accused Sameer Bhujbal of masterminding” the scam, they are probing if he was influenced by Bhujbal senior. “The contracts were awarded when Bhujbal was the PWD minister. We are probing whether Sameer and others were involved in misappropriations because he [Bhujbal] was the minister. The investigation is focused on gathering evidence against Bhujbal,” said a high- ranking ED officer.
Earlier, the central agency had attached land belonging to Devisha Infrastructure, valued at Rs160 crore, and Parvesh Constructions’ properties worth Rs110 crore, including a nine-storey building in Santacruz, where the family lived, along with an open plot in Bandra. The agency alleged the companies are promoted by the Bhujbals.
In June 2015, the ED had registered two separate cases under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA), with the agency focusing on the “trail of the money” and “analysing the assets”.