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Friday, Sep 20, 2019

‘Won’t stop speaking against government’: Raj Thackeray on questioning by ED in IL&FS case

Maharashtra Navnirman Sena chief Raj Thackeray remains defiant despite being grilled by ED for 8 hours in connection with the IL&FS money laundering case; says they can quiz him as much as they want.

mumbai Updated: Aug 23, 2019 09:15 IST
Naresh Kamath and Pratik Salunke
Naresh Kamath and Pratik Salunke
Hindustan Times, Mumbai
MNS chief Raj Thackeray coming out of ED office at Ballard Estate in Mumbai, after being questioned in the IL&FS case, on Thursday, Aug. 22, 2019.
MNS chief Raj Thackeray coming out of ED office at Ballard Estate in Mumbai, after being questioned in the IL&FS case, on Thursday, Aug. 22, 2019. (Vijayanand Gupta / HT Photo )
         

The Enforcement Directorate (ED) on Thursday questioned Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) chief Raj Thackeray at its south Mumbai office for more than eight hours, in connection with the Infrastructure Leasing & Financial Services (IL&FS) money laundering case.

Thackeray arrived at ED office at 11.35am and came out at 8.10pm. Thackeray’s wife Sharmila, son Amit, daughter-in-law Mitali and daughter Urvashi accompanied him from their residence, ‘Krishna Kunj’, in Shivaji Park to the office. The family was seen waiting at a nearby hotel and later outside the office.

Addressing his supporters from home after returning from the ED office, he struck a defiant note: “They can interrogate me as much as they want, but I will not stop speaking [against this government]”.

In the morning, top MNS leaders namely Bala Nandgaonkar and Avinash Abyankar arrived at his residence, but Thackeray asked them not to accompany him. A close associate who did not wish to come on record said: “Everyone knows it is a pressure tactic to silence those who question the establishment. Rajsaheb sold his stake 11 years ago and they are questioning him now. This shows their ulterior motive.”

In 2005, Thackeray, former CM Manohar Joshi’s son Unmesh and builder Rajan Shirodkar bought Kohinoor Mill no. 3 and set up Kohinoor CTNL. He exited the project within three years. The ED had issued a notice to Thackeray on Sunday over his involvement in Kohinoor CTNL.

The project is being probed as it received loan and equity investments adding up to Rs 860 crore from IL&FS. ED sources said Kohinoor CTNL allegedly acquired loan without adequate security and also defaulted on repayments. Of the Rs 860 crore, Rs 225 crore was the initial investment in Kohinoor CTNL.

Kohinoor Square was built in Dadar, but mired in litigation, the project suffered a slowdown. In 2008, IL&FS suffered a loss by selling its Kohinoor CTNL shares for Rs 90 crore, taking a hit of Rs 135 crore. In 2011, Kohinoor CTNL entered into an agreement to sell certain premises of the skyscraper to IL&FS and settle the amount, but it defaulted again, according to sources. Following Kohinoor CTNL’s inability to repay its loans, Joshi lost control of the company to architectural firm Sandeep Shikre and Associates in January. Joshi and Shirodkar who have been questioned in the case will be questioned again on Monday.

First Published: Aug 22, 2019 23:54 IST