ED raids Sena MP’s premises in money laundering case
ED officers along with armed CRPF jawans raided five different institutions controlled by Sena MP Bhavana Gawali, including Janshikshan Sanstha at Rishod, a degree college at Shirpur, an Ayurveda college at Degaon, Shri Balaji Sahakari Particle Board Karkhana Ltd at Malegaon, and Mahila Utkarsha Pratishthan at Rishod.
Enforcement Directorate (ED) officers on Monday conducted searches at seven places linked to Bhavana Gawali, Shiv Sena member of parliament (MP) from Yavatmal-Washim.
ED officers along with armed CRPF jawans raided five different institutions controlled by Gawali, including Janshikshan Sanstha at Rishod, a degree college at Shirpur, an Ayurveda college at Degaon, Shri Balaji Sahakari Particle Board Karkhana Ltd at Malegaon, and Mahila Utkarsha Pratishthan at Rishod. Two other places including one in Mumbai were also raided.
ED officers claimed they have seized some documents from these places. They also questioned and recorded statements of some people at the places that were raided.
Officers of the central agency said they have registered an enforcement case on the basis of a first information report (FIR) registered with Washim police in connection with alleged financial irregularities in a trust linked to Gawali. ED suspects Gawali’s involvement in money laundering and embezzlement of funds to the tune of ₹17 crore as well as misuse of power in obtaining government grants and funds for a project.
Gawali is a five-term Lok Sabha member, representing Yavatmal-Washim constituency since 1999.
ED sources said the alleged irregularities revolve around Gawali obtaining loan of around ₹43 crore from National Cooperative Development Corporation (NCDC) through Balaji Sahakari Particle Board which was allegedly misused and not utilised for the purpose for which the loan was provided.
Harish Sarda, former vice-president of Shiv Sena’s Washim district unit, had first unearthed the alleged misappropriation of funds at Shri Balaji Sahakari Particle Board Karkhana and named Gawali in his complaints to various authorities. He had also filed petition before the Nagpur bench of the Bombay high court (HC) after local police and other authorities did not act on his complaints.
Sarda in his complaint alleged money laundering and embezzlement by misusing power by Gawali and her associates in obtaining grants and funds for Balaji plant located at Malegaon in Washim. Gawali’s father Pudalikrao, who also represented the region in the Lok Sabha, was its chief promoter. The factory was set up in 1998 to collect crop residue and use it for preparation of particle boards for making furniture, partition material and other purposes. The basic aim of the project was to provide employment to local farmers.
However, the factory never started functioning. In 1998, the estimated project cost was ₹43.85 crore but undervalued to ₹7.9 crore by a firm called MITCON and was later sold to Bhavana Agro Products run by Gawali on August 16, 2010.
Sarda had in his complaints stated that Gawali’s father illegally transferred 14.90 hectares of factory land to Mahila Utkarsha Pratishthan in 2001 without obtaining necessary permission from competent authorities. Cooperative society land cannot be transferred to any public trust without government approval, Sarda had stated.
Sarda had last year sought thorough investigation into irregularities from any central law enforcement agency like ED or Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).
ED initiated an investigation in the matter and is also looking into alleged misappropriation of funds availed by Gawali’s firm Bhavana Agro Products and Service Ltd from the two banks. The agency is likely to summon Gawali for questioning.
ED raids 3 places linked to Anil Parab’s aide
ED on Monday also raided three places in Maharashtra in connection with the Anil Deshmukh money laundering case. These places are related to Nagpur’s deputy RTO Bajrang Kharmate, who is said to be closely associated with transport minister Anil Parab, a close confident of chief minister Uddhav Thackeray. However, ED has not revealed the places which were raided.
The central agency has already issued summons to Parab and he has been asked to attend the agency’s office in Mumbai on Tuesday. These developments have taken place after a viral video showed Parab purportedly instructing the superintendent of police of Ratnagiri to arrest Union minister Narayan Rane without waiting for an arrest warrant.