Pawar’s Name Not Mentioned Earlier in MSCB Case: Senior BJP Leader

According to a statement released by ED, the alleged scam is to the tune of Rs 25,000 crore.

5 min read

In a major embarrassment to the ruling BJP, senior party leader Eknath Khadse on Wednesday, 25 September, claimed NCP chief Sharad Pawar's name was never mentioned in the Maharashtra State Cooperative Bank corruption case when he was "following it up" as Leader of Opposition in the Assembly.

Khadse had served as the Leader of Opposition from November 2009 to October 2014 till the Devendra Fadnavis-led BJP government came to power that month.

"I had followed up the Maharashtra State Cooperative Bank (MSCB) corruption case when I was the Leader of Opposition in the state Legislative Assembly. I have raised the voice several times but I can state that Sharad Pawar's name was nowhere in the entire case," Khadse told reporters.

The Enforcement Directorate (ED) had booked NCP chief Sharad Pawar, his nephew and former deputy chief minister Ajit Pawar and others in a criminal case of money laundering linked to the alleged Rs 25,000-crore scam in Maharashtra State Cooperative Bank (MSCB), officials said on Tuesday.

Reacting to the case, Pawar said, “I will myself go to the ED on 27 September and give all information I have about this case,” according to ANI.

Pawar said that he has “no problem” in going to jail. “I will be pleased as I have never had this experience. If someone plans to send me to jail, I welcome it,” Pawar told ANI.

According to a statement released by the ED, the alleged scam is to the tune of Rs 25,000 crore and relates to the Maharashtra State Cooperative Bank. The case also names 70 former functionaries of the bank.

ED notice on details of the case.
ED notice on details of the case.
(Photo: The Quint)

It is understood that the accused will soon be summoned by the agency to record their statements.

Diliprao Deshmukh, Ishwarlal Jain, Jayant Patil, Shivaji Rao, Anand Rao Adsul, Rajendra Shingane and Madan Patil are among the accused in the ED case.

Won't Bow Down Before Delhi Throne, Says Sharad Pawar

Pawar on Tuesday questioned the timing of the ED move, which comes days before the 21 October Maharashtra Assembly elections.

Taking a dig at the filed case, Pawar further said, “I welcome the ED’s decision to lodge a case against me when I am not even the director of the bank”.

He said that the ED's proceedings are motivated by the BJP which has become nervous because of his political rallies ahead of the election.

"I will be mostly out of Mumbai for Assembly poll campaigning. The agency officials shouldn't misunderstand that I am unavailable. I will go to them and give them whatever information they want," Pawar said.

Asserting that he believes in the Constitution of India, Pawar said "Maharashtra follows the ideology of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj. We don't know bowing down before the Delhi takht (throne)."

'Baseless': Devendra Fadnavis as Pawar Cries Foul in Case Against Him

Hours after Pawar questioned the timing of the money laundering case against him in the Maharashtra State Cooperative Bank scam, Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis refuted the charge, saying the ED move was not politically motivated.

Fadnavis said the ED registered the case based on the High Court directive.

"It would be wrong to attribute a political motive for the ED action and call it a political vendetta (by the BJP government)," Fadnavis told reporters.

“I wonder how his name got involved in the case,” he told reporters.

NCP Protests ED Case Against Sharad Pawar; 5 Workers Detained

Meanwhile, workers of the NCP's youth wing staged a protest outside the ED office in Mumbai to condemn the registration of the money laundering case against party chief Sharad Pawar.

Five party activists were later detained, PTI reported, quoting the police.

Shaikh reportedly said the protesting party members were baton charged by police and later detained.

Shaikh reportedly said the protesting party members were baton charged by police and later detained.

“The ED filed the case against Pawar given the huge response his campaign rallies have received. The ED is being used to stifle voices of the opposition leaders ahead of the election. Hence, we staged the protest outside the ED office to condemn the action.”
Mehboob Shaikh, state unit chief, NCP youth wing

Five NCP activists were detained and taken to Mata Ramabai Ambedkar Marg police station, a police official told PTI.

"Since the protestors were reluctant to go, the police had to use force in an attempt to disperse them," he said.

Case Background

The ED slapped criminal charges of money laundering on the basis of the Mumbai Police FIR that was filed in August this year, which itself was filed on the basis of a similar complaint by the state economic offences wing (EOW).

The EOW was asked by the Bombay High Court to file a case after a bench of Justices SC Dharmadhikari and SK Shinde said there was "credible evidence" against the accused in the case.

As per the police FIR, the state exchequer allegedly suffered losses to the tune of Rs 25,000 crore due to the MSCB scam between 1 January 2007 and 31 December 2017.

The offence has been registered against the then chief ministers, deputy chief ministers, ministers, politicians, government officials, the then directors and senior officials of MSCB, district central bank, and directors of Pen Cooperative Bank, according to the FIR.

According to the notice, office bearers and directors of the bank extended loans in a fraudulent manner to Cooperative Sugar Factories (CSFs).

It further states that there were “several irregularities” in sanctioning of the loans and that the bank officials were “connected” to the CSFs.

Other accused in the police FIR include Peasants and Workers Party (PWP) leader Jayant Patil and the then directors and senior officials from the superseded bank's units in 34 districts in the state.

The Alleged Offences

They have been booked by the police under sections 420 (Cheating and dishonestly inducing delivery of property), 409 (Criminal breach of trust by public servant, or by banker, merchant or agent), 406 (Punishment for criminal breach of trust), 465 (Punishment for forgery), 467 (Forgery of valuable security, will, etc) and 120 (B) ( Punishment of criminal conspiracy) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).

An inspection by the National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD) as well as a charge sheet filed by a quasi-judicial inquiry commission under the Maharashtra Cooperative Societies (MCS) Act had blamed the “decisions, actions and inactions” of Ajit Pawar and the other accused for the loss.

Ajit Pawar had served as deputy chief minister of the state from 10 November 2010 to 26 September 2014.

The NABARD audit report revealed breach of several banking laws and RBI guidelines by the accused in distribution of loans to sugar factories and spinning mills, and subsequent default on repayment and recovery of such loans.

An activist, Surinder Arora, had filed a complaint with the EOW in 2015 and approached the high court, seeking that an FIR be registered.

In view of the deficiencies pointed out by NABARD, the RBI had in May 2011 directed to supersede the MSCB board of directors and appoint an administrator to look after its affairs.

The HC had held that prima facie, NABARD's inspection report, the complaint, and the charge sheet under the MCS Act showed there existed "credible evidence" against the accused in the case.

(With inputs from ANI and PTI)

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