ED arrests Rahul Nanda’s aide M Shashidharan in TOPSGRUP case
TOPSGRUP’S chairman Rahul Nanda’s aide and company’s senior employee M Shashidharan was arrested by the Enforcement Directorate on Monday night in the money laundering case in which Shiv Sena MLA Pratap Sarnaik has been named.
According to ED sources, Shashidharan is suspected to have helped Nanda in the majority of funds transfer parts. While staying abroad Nanda was getting all the money transfers done through his company executives including Shashidharan.
He is also suspected to be involved in an MMRDA deal involving money laundering with Nanda. He was working on the instructions of Nanda for money transactions, ED sources said.
This is the second arrest by ED in the TOPSGRUP case. Amit Chandole, a business associate of Shiv Sena Member of Legislative Assembly (MLA) Pratap Sarnaik was arrested last month. On Monday, the high court extended Chandole’s custody following a request by the ED.
Shashidharan is the same person who on behalf of Nanda has filed an FIR with Mumbai Police recently against TPOSGRUP’s ex-vice president Ramesh Iyer (the complainant in ED case) and others for financial irregularities by cheating and forgery. The Mumbai EOW is now investigating the case.
Sources said that ED officials may confront Chandole and Shashidharan in their custody and grill the two together in connection with the suspicious funds transfers linking MMRDA security service contracts, Nanda and Sarnaik.
TOPSGRUP had obtained a contract for providing security guards for the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) projects in collusion with Pratap Sarnaik through illegal means by a “well-thought out strategy”, the ED had claimed.
The agency has claimed that the aim of these illegal manoeuvres was to get additional inadmissible benefit by inflating the number of contracted security guards deployed at the cost of MMRDA and illegal cash gratification to Sarnaik for facilitating this scam.
Against this “active role and criminal conspiracy”, Sarnaik used to get 50% profit earned out of the said contract and sometimes, the money used to be transferred to the account of a third person, said ED. Chandole accepted the receipt of cash from TOPSGRUP for the MMRDA projects, ED claimed. Therefore, part of the amount received by TOPDGRUP from MMRDA appears to be proceeds of crime, said ED.
Previously, the Sena leader had termed ED’s actions as an outcome of vendetta politics.
“The day I moved a privilege motion against (actor) Kangana Ranaut and (Republic TV editor-in-chief) Arnab Goswami, and spoke about reopening the Anvay Naik (suicide) case (in which Goswami is an accused), I knew what would happen. I am a Shiv Sainik and a fighter who has reached this far,” he said last week after ED raided his properties and questioned his son.
Sarnaik on November 25 quarantined himself citing Covid-19 guidelines after returning to the state from Goa. He has asked ED for time to join the investigation. The agency said other people linked to Sarnaik’s businesses would also be soon asked to join the probe.
Earlier, Nanda had also denied all the allegations. “Pratap is a very old friend and has not invested a single penny in my business or company ever. He or Sena have nothing to do with Tops. This is absolutely absurd,” he said.
ED’s money laundering probe is based on a first information report (FIR) registered by Mumbai’s Yellow Gate police on October 28 on the direction of 16th metropolitan magistrate court against Nanda and his family members. The case was recently transferred to the Mumbai Police economic offences wing (EOW) for further investigation.