Shiv Sena MP Bhavana Gawali’s aide held in money laundering case
The Enforcement Directorate (ED), late on Monday, arrested Saeed Khan, an aide to Bhavana Gawali, the Shiv Sena Member of Parliament (MP) from Maharashtra’s Yavatmal-Washim, in connection with a money laundering case linked to a trust associated with the lawmaker. Khan was expected to be produced in a special Prevention of Money Laundering Act court on Tuesday.
The ED last month carried out searches at premises linked to Khan and Gawali. Khan is accused of converting the trust into a company and becoming its director for wrongful gains. The ED has filed a case over alleged financial irregularities related to the trust. It suspects Gawali’s involvement in money laundering and embezzlement of ₹17 crore as well as misuse of power in obtaining government grants and funds.
ED officials said the alleged irregularities related to a loan of around ₹43 crore from the National Cooperative Development Corporation. The money was allegedly misused and not utilised for the purpose for which it was provided.
Harish Sarda, a former vice-president of Shiv Sena’s Washim district unit, first raised allegations of misappropriation of funds and complained against Gawali. He also filed a petition in the Bombay high court alleging police inaction. In his complaint, Sarda accused Gawali of money laundering, embezzlement, and misuse of power in obtaining grants and funds for a factory. 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 making furniture, etc. The basic aim was to provide employment to local farmers.
The factory never started functioning. In 1998, the estimated project cost was ₹43.85 crore, but it was allegedly undervalued to ₹7.9 crore before it was sold to Gawali-run Bhavna Agro Products. Sarda accused Gawali’s father of illegally transferring 14.90 hectares of factory land without obtaining necessary permission from competent authorities. Sarda maintained the land belonged to a cooperative society and could not have been transferred to any public trust without the government’s approval.