ED case against Deshmukh: Ex-Mumbai cop Sachin Vaze’s statement taken again
Enforcement Directorate (ED) officers on Sunday recorded the statement of dismissed assistant police inspector Sachin Vaze at Taloja jail in connection with the money laundering case against former state home minister Anil Deshmukh, which the agency is probing.
Vaze is in judicial custody after the National Investigation Agency (NIA) arrested him for his alleged role in the Antilia explosives scare case and the murder of Thane trader Mansukh Hiran.
This is the third time that the agency has recorded Vaze’s statement and quizzed him about other alleged financial irregularities linked to Deshmukh. Earlier, his statement was recorded in the jail on May 19 and 21.
Earlier, on the basis of Vaze’s revelations, the central agency had arrested Deshmukh’s personal secretary Sanjeev Palande and assistant Kundan Shinde on June 26.
ED has alleged that Deshmukh misused his position as minister, and collected ₹4.7 crore from orchestra bars in Mumbai for their “smooth functioning” through Vaze. The money was sent to two Delhi-based brothers who operated bogus companies, said the agency. The money was channelised into Nagpur-based Shri Sai Shikshan Sansthan – a trust controlled by the Deshmukh family – under the garb of donations, at the behest of the former minister’s son Hrishikesh, the agency has claimed.
ED has claimed that while collecting money from bar owners, Vaze told them that a part of the amount was to be divided among a certain “No 1”, the crime and the social service branches of the Mumbai Police.
The anti-money laundering agency alleged that Vaze had claimed that Deshmukh had called him to his official residence and instructed him to collect ₹3 lakh from all bars and restaurants in the city. He was allegedly also given a list of the establishments.
ED has identified 24 private entities that are directly and indirectly controlled by the Deshmukh family and found that huge sums of money had moved among them without any rationale. “From the analysis of the bank accounts of these companies, it is clear that there is no rationale for the transfers and can thus be said that these series of transactions were meant for inflating balance sheets and layering of money from one company to other,” ED had stated.
The agency also stated that Palande, during interrogation, admitted that a meeting was held on March 4 with police officers in which a discussion over imposing the Covid-19 restrictions on bars had been taken. Palande said Deshmukh had a role in the transfers and postings of police officers, especially those of the IPS (Indian Police Service) rank. During the meetings on transfer of police officers, an ‘unofficial list’ used to be prepared. However, the defence lawyer had refuted the allegations.
In the various petitions filed against Deshmukh in the Bombay high court, several allegations were made over his involvement in the alleged cash-for-transfer racket.
During the investigation, the names of some ministers and other persons were revealed who had played a role in the transfer of police officers.
The money laundering case against Deshmukh was registered based on a first information report (FIR) by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) against him on April 21.
CBI had started the probe after former Mumbai Police commissioner Param Bir Singh had accused the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader of running an “extortion racket” in Mumbai and instructing some police officers to collect ₹100 crore for him every month from various establishments.
Deshmukh had called the allegations false and claimed that Singh levelled accusations only after he was shunted out from the Mumbai Police chief’s post for his “poor handling” of the Antilia explosives scare and Hiran murder cases.