Court extends Sanjay Raut’s ED custody till August 8; wife summoned

Updated on Aug 05, 2022 12:55 AM IST

Special judge M G Deshpande extended Raut’s custody, saying that the ED had made “remarkable progress” in its investigation and brought out a further trail of around ₹2.50 crore linked to the couple.

Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut being taken to court from the Enforcement Directorate office on Thursday. Anshuman Poyrekar/ HT Photo
Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut being taken to court from the Enforcement Directorate office on Thursday. Anshuman Poyrekar/ HT Photo
By, Mumbai

The special Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) court on Thursday extended the Enforcement Directorate (ED) custody of Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut till August 8 after the agency claimed that the Rajya Sabha member could not explain the huge sums of money deposited in his wife Varsha’s bank accounts.

Meanwhile, the ED, probing the alleged money laundering by Raut in Patra Chawl redevelopment project at Goregaon, issued summons to Varsha for questioning. She has been asked to visit the agency’s Ballard Pier office on Friday when she is likely to be confronted with her husband.

Special judge M G Deshpande extended Raut’s custody, saying that the ED had made “remarkable progress” in its investigation and brought out a further trail of around 2.50 crore linked to the couple. The court also said that the agency must be given time to find out the trail of “dirty money” and how the tainted money was introduced in the financial system.

Also read: Sanjay Raut says ED kept him in a windowless room, agency says ‘because of AC’

The ED’s counsel, advocate Hiten Venegaonkar, said in the first custody period, the Sena leader was questioned about around 1.08 crore being credited to Varsha’s accounts from unrelated persons, but he could not explain the receipts and gave evasive answers.

Venegaonkar said the agency had called for the documents from the banks concerned and also the persons who allegedly paid Varsha and claimed that the investigation had brought out further proceeds of crime to the tune of 1.17 crore, which was utilised by Raut in respect of 10 plots at Kihim, Alibag.

The agency said it had collected several documents which revealed that the properties in Alibag were purchased using cash, which was contrary to Raut’s claim that there were no cash deals involved.

The ED arrested Raut late on July 31 night in the money-laundering case involving the Patra Chawl project. The next day, he was remanded in three-day ED custody after the agency said that 1.06 crore of the “tainted money” was found to have been received by the Sena MP and his family members from his “front man” Pravin Raut.

The agency’s case is based on the FIR registered by the Economic Offences Wing of Mumbai police in March 2018 against Housing Development and Infrastructure Limited (HDIL) promoters Rakesh Wadhawan and his son Sarang, Guruashish Construction Private Limited, and its former director Pravin Raut, among others.

Guruashish Construction, a subsidiary of HDIL, had taken up the redevelopment of Siddharth Nagar, popularly known as Patra Chawl spread over 47 acres and owned by Maharashtra Housing and Area Development Authority (MHADA). The project, estimated at 1,017 crore, was aimed to rehabilitate the 672 tenants residing in 265 square feet tenements in 16 old buildings.

According to the ED, an agreement was executed between the housing society formed by Patra Chawl tenants, MHADA, and Guruashish Construction on November 2011. Guruashish Construction was to give one 767 square feet built-up area flat to each of the 672 tenants and 2,28,961 square feet constructed area to MHADA.

The ED investigation has revealed that Guruashish Contruction, however, sold the entire floor space index of the project to nine builders and collected 901.79 crore from them without constructing the rehabilitation buildings and the MHADA portions. The developer also collected an additional amount of 138 crore from 458 prospective flat buyers by launching a project at the site – thus taking the total proceeds of crime to 1,039.79 crore.

Also read: Fortunes of hundreds of middle-income families are linked to Raut’s case

The agency also found out that while the project remained standstill, around 100 crore was transferred from HDIL to the account of Pravin Raut, who in turn diverted part of these funds to various accounts of his close associates, family members, and their business entities.

On May 4, when the ED attached some of the properties belonging to Varsha, the agency had claimed that in 2010, part of the proceeds amounting to 83 lakh was received by Varsha directly/indirectly from Pravin Raut’s wife Madhuri. This amount, the agency claimed, was utilised by Varsha for purchasing a flat at Dadar, and eight plots at Kihim were bought in the name of Varsha and Swapna Patkar. In this land deal, apart from the registered value, cash payments were made to the sellers. After the ED began the probe, Varsha allegedly transferred 55 lakh back to Madhuri.

The ED had earlier arrested the Wadhawans and Pravin Raut. All of them are in judicial custody.

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  • ABOUT THE AUTHOR

    Charul Shah is senior reporter covering the legal beat for Hindustan Times. She has spent over a decade in the industry covering criminal investigations and judiciary from Mumbai, Ahmedabad and Bengaluru.

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