Money laundering case against Anil Deshmukh: ED names Sachin Vaze as accused
The Enforcement Directorate (ED) has named dismissed assistant police inspector Sachin Vaze as an accused in the money laundering case against former Maharashtra home minister Anil Deshmukh.Vaze has been arrested by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) in the Antilia explosives scare and Mansukh Hiran murder cases.
In its charge sheet against Deshmukh’s personal secretary Sanjeev Palande and assistant Kundan Shinde, the agency has also named Shri Sai Shikshan Sanstha – a Nagpur-based charitable trust run by Deshmukh and his family members – as an accused. Palande and Shinde were arrested by ED in June.
Deshmukh or his family members have not been directly named as an accused in ED’s charge sheet. However, it is said that the agency requires more time to investigate the roles of other persons, including Deshmukh’s family members, and it has requested the court to permit supplementary charge sheets in the matter.
ED has also named Delhi-based Surendra Kumar Jain and Virendra Jain who helped allegedly the Deshmukhs launder money to Shri Sai Shikhshan Sanstha, as well as shell companies Reliable Finance Corporation Private Limited, Utsav Securities Private Limited, VA Realcon Private Limited and Sital Leasing and Finance Private Limited.
A man named Kishore Dewani, who also allegedly helped Deshmukh launder money, has been named an accused in the case. ED has also named Premiur Port Private Link Company, a firm said to be jointly owned by the Deshmukhs and Dewanis. Aparrt from these names, the agency has also added the names of chartered accountants Vinod Hassani and Vishal Khetwani to the charge sheet.
The agency claimed that its investigation began after former Mumbai Police commissioner Param Bir Singh had alleged that Deshmukh had directed Vaze to collect ₹100 crore every month from establishments in Mumbai. Singh approached the Bombay high court (HC) and filed a petition in the matter. Based on HC’s order, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) had registered an offence in the matter, after which ED started its investigation.
ED said that it has found in its investigations that Vaze, who was earlier dismissed from the force, was reinstated with Deshmukh’s help. Deshmukh had even demanded ₹2 crore from Vaze to convince other political leaders to reinstate Vaze, ED has alleged. Though Vaze then did not pay Deshmukh following his reinstatement, the former home minister allegedly asked the cop to pay in him in instalments. The agency said Vaze and Deshmukh were working as a team to get gratification through extortion and illegal activities.
On Deshmukh’s instructions, Vaze had called a meeting of 1,750 bar owners and demanded ₹3 lakh each from them.
The agency has stated in its charge sheet that Vaze used to visit Deshmukh’s official residence Dnyaneshwari regularly. Vaze had collected ₹4.7 crore from various bar owners between December 2020 and February 2021, at Deshmukh’s behest, said ED. According to the agency, Vaze gave the extorted money to Shinde and subsequently, a part of the amount was routed to the charitable trust in Nagpur through various shell companies.
Palande was instrumental in passing on Deshmukh’s instructions to police officers and collecting tainted money, ED has alleged. He also helped Deshmukh launder money, the agency claimed in the charge sheet.
The agency stated that Deshmukh in conspiracy with his son Hrishikesh had transferred the illegally-obtained money to Delhi-based bogus companies of the Jain brothers through the hawala route.
The Jains layered the money and infused it into banking channels to transfer it to the charitable trust. A total of ₹4.18 crore had been transferred to Shri Sai Shikhshan Sanstha in the name of donation through various shell companies, said ED.
The agency has said in its charge sheet that the Deshmukhs had created a complex web of companies and used unaccounted money for further expansion and managing day-to-day affairs of their business.
The Deshmukh family allegedly owned around 13 companies directly and around 14 companies indirectly. They have been purportedly using the unaccounted money to purchase properties, and one such property was the flat in Sukhada Apartment on Sir Pochkhanwala Road in Worli, purchased in the name of Deshmukh’s wife Arti for a concessional price of ₹84 lakh. The agency said most of the payment for the flat was done in cash with “ulterior motives” and was one of the benami properties owned by the Deshmukh family.
ED has claimed that the Deshmukhs run various companies through their associates.
Deshmukh’s another son Salil, became the owner of various companies by purchasing them at very lower prices, and later becoming owners of huge properties and shares, said ED.
Hrishikesh was allegedly running various businesses through a person named Vikram Sharma. ED said Sharma accepted that he was merely a signatory in the companies and the businesses were actually controlled by Hrishikesh.
The agency claimed that one of Hrishikesh’s business associates even accepted before the agency that his company owned four vehicles, Hrishikesh used a Mercedes.