PMC Bank scam: Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut’s wife joins ED probe
Shiv Sena Member of Parliament Sanjay Raut’s wife Varsha Raut on Monday joined the Enforcement Directorate’s (ED) probe in the alleged money laundering in the Punjab and Maharashtra Cooperative (PMC) Bank fraud case.
Varsha Raut reached ED’s Fort office in South Mumbai on Monday afternoon. ED officials are to question her in connection with “suspicious” transactions that cropped up while the officials were scanning Pravin Raut’s transactions. Pravin Raut is Sajany Raut’s friend and former director of Guruashish Constructions Private Limited, a subsidiary of the Housing Development Infrastructure Limited (HDIL), which is accused of defrauding PMC Bank of over Rs6,670 crore by fraudulently obtaining nearly 70% of the bank’s overall loans.
During an investigation into PMC Bank case and the involvement of HDIL, ED discovered that Rs95 crore had been siphoned off through HDIL by Pravin Raut in “active conspiracy and connivance” with various persons. The sources of the funds were illegally availed loans or advances etc. by HDIL from PMC Bank. There was no document or agreement in support of these payments made to Pravin Raut. Further, as per the HDIL’s ledger, the funds were given to Pravin Raut for acquiring land in Palghar, the ED said.
Pravin Raut paid an amount of Rs1.6 crore to his wife Madhuri from the proceeds of crime. Madhuri then transferred Rs55 lakh in 2010 and 2011 as interest-free loan to Varsha Raut. The amount was utilised to purchase a flat in Dadar East, the ED said.
Investigation further revealed that Varsha Raut and Madhuri are partners in Avani Construction. Varsha Raut received Rs12 lakh from this entity as overdrawn capital converted into a loan on a contribution of mere Rs5,625. The loan amount of Rs12 lakh is still outstanding. ED officials wish to question Varsha Raut regarding these transactions.
The Enforcement Directorate (ED) has already provisionally attached Pravin Raut’s properties worth Rs72 crore under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) in the PMC Bank fraud case.
Pravin Raut was also arrested by the Mumbai Police’s economic offences wing (EOW) in February in connection with the Rs1,034 crore redevelopment fraud case, in which Maharashtra Housing and Area Development Authority (Mhada) is the complainant.
ED’s money laundering probe in the PMC Bank case is based on the Mumbai EOW’s September 2019 FIR registered against HDIL, its promoters Rakesh Wadhawan and Sarang Wadhawan, the bank’s former chairman Waryam Singh and managing director Joy Thomas and some other accused for allegedly causing losses worth thousands of crores to the bank to reap gains for themselves.
Previously, Sanjay Raut had termed ED’s action as a witch hunt. He said his wife works as a teacher and had taken a loan of Rs50 lakh from her friend 10 years ago. “For the past one-and-a-half months, ED has been following up with us. We’ve given all the documents they demanded and showed our IT (income tax) returns and my Rajya Sabha affidavit. As the BJP (Bharatiya Janata Party) failed in their intention, they are now targeting our family members,” Sanjay Raut alleged.
On September 23, 2019, RBI had barred PMC Bank depositors from withdrawing money after it came to light that PMC Bank’s top management had allegedly sanctioned around 73% of the bank’s loans to Housing Development Infrastructure Ltd (HDIL) group unlawfully and concealed the firm’s non-performing assets (NPAs). The RBI regulator had first capped the withdrawal limit at Rs1,000. Later, depositors were allowed to withdraw money upto Rs50,000 in a six-month period, which was further increased to Rs1 lakh.