Sanjay Raut Questioned for Over 10 Hrs by ED in Money Laundering Case
"Everyone knows that it is totally political," Raut had said earlier in the day.
Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut was questioned for over 10 hours on Friday, 1 July, by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) in connection with a money laundering probe.
After coming out of the ED office, Raut said, "It is our duty to go in front of the central agencies if they have any doubt in their minds so that people do not have any doubt in their minds about us. We were questioned for 10 hours and we gave full co-operation," news agency ANI reported.
Raut had appeared before the ED at 12 pm and had told reporters before entering the ED office, "I am a fearless person. I am fearless because I've never done anything wrong in my life. If at all this is political, we will get to know that later. Right now, I feel I am going to a neutral agency and I trust them completely."
The Sena spokesperson had taken to Twitter earlier in the morning to request Shiv Sena workers not to gather at the office of the central agency. Calling the summons "totally political," he said that he would go because he was a citizen and a Member of Parliament (MP).
"Everyone knows that it is totally political. The central agency summoned me and I am a citizen as well as MP. So I will go to ED," he said.
He was asked on Monday, 27 June, to appear before the agency on Tuesday, 28 June. However, he had sought an extension, following which a fresh summons was issued for 1 July.
"I respect the summons issued to me and I will cooperate with the investigation agencies," Raut tweeted earlier.
Raut is being investigated in a money laundering probe linked to the re-development of a Mumbai 'chawl' and other related financial transactions involving his wife and friends.
On Thursday, he confirmed that he would appear before the agency on Friday, after his request for another extension was declined, news agency ANI reported.
Meanwhile, after Uddhav Thackeray's resignation on Wednesday, Eknath Shinde, who was at the helm of the rebellion in Shiv Sena, took oath as Maharashtra's Chief Minister on Thursday evening.
Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Devendra Fadnavis became the new deputy chief minister.
Raut's Extension Petition
Raut's lawyer had submitted a letter seeking an extension to the ED officials around Tuesday noon seeking 13-14 days time to submit the required documents before the probe agency. The Enforcement Directorate, however, had declined to give him that much time.
On Monday, he had called this a "conspiracy" to derail him amid the ongoing political rebellion in the Shiv Sena.
The Sena MP had said that he would not be available on Tuesday because of his planned visit to Alibaug (Raigad district). His lawyer arrived at the ED’s office around 11.15 am to seek some more time, PTI reported.
The Patra 'Chawl' Case Against Raut
Guru Ashish Construction Pvt Ltd was involved in the redevelopment of the Patra 'chawl,' which had 672 tenants in tenements on 47 acres belonging to the Maharashtra Housing Area Development Authority (MHADA), the ED had said earlier. Guru Ashish is a subsidiary company of the Housing Development Infrastructure Ltd (HDIL).
HDIL is under investigation by the ED and few other agencies in connection with the almost Rs 4,300 crore alleged fraud at the Punjab and Maharashtra Cooperative (PMC) Bank. The ED said that Guru Ashish had entered into a "tripartite agreement' with the tenants and MHADA to re-develop the 'chawl'.
The ED claims that according to the agreement the developer had to provide flats to 672 tenants and develop flats for MHADA. Thereafter, the remaining area was to be sold by the developer.
"The directors of Guru Ashish Constructions mislead MHADA and managed to sell the FSI (floor space index) to nine developers and collected about Rs 901.79 crore without constructing the rehab portion for 672 displaced tenants and MHADA portion," it said.
The ED probe, conducted so far, found that "around Rs 100 crore were transferred from HDIL to the account of Pravin Raut."
This amount was further "diverted" by Pravin Raut to various accounts of his close associates, family member, his business entities etc, it said.
ED's investigations found that an amount of Rs 55 lakh was transferred back by Varsha Raut to Madhuri Raut. There are various other transactions too, it said.
Raut's Properties Attached
The agency had questioned Varsha Raut last year in connection with the PMC Bank case and her purported links with Pravin Raut's wife.
On 5 April, the ED attached Raut's property in connection with the Rs 1,034 crore Patra Chawl land scam case, a plot in Alibaug and a flat in Mumbai's Dadar.
"ED provisionally attached assets totalling Rs 11.15 crore, in form of land held by Pravin Raut, ex-director of Guru Ashish Construction Pvt Ltd, a Dadar flat of Varsha Raut, wife of Sanjay Raut & Alibaug plots jointly held by Varsha Raut & Swapna Patkar, wife of Sujit Patkar," the ED had said in a statement in April.
Raut had earlier told journalists that he was being targeted for the past two years with the action against him, only after some persons pressured him to bring down the government in Maharashtra. He added that he had already informed chairman of the Rajya Sabha Venkaiah Naidu about the matter.
Responding to the seizure, Raut said, "Please understand the meaning of property. Am I Vijay Mallya, Am I Mehul Choksi? Am I Nirav Modi or Ambani, Adani? I live in a small house. I don't have a single acre of land in my native place. Whatever I have is hard-earned money. Does the agency feel there is money laundering? Whom are you linking me with?"
(With inputs from ANI.)
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