In a notorious dark game of money laundering, the Enforcement Directorate (ED) on Monday rubbed the political bigwig and NCP leader Chhagan Bhujbal on the wrong side as it arrested his nephew and former MP Sameer Bhujbal, in a money laundering case in Mumbai. The agency had previously conducted multiple searches in connection with its probe against Bhujbals and others, before making the arrest.
Sameer Bhujbal was arrested after over six hours of questioning under the provision of the PMLA at the agency”s office in Ballard Tiar here. He will be produced in court tomorrow, official sources said.
They claimed he was not cooperating with the investigators and hence his custodial interrogation was necessary.
Earlier in the day, the ED conducted searches on at least nine premises, including properties and offices, belonging to former Maharashtra PWD minister Chhagan Bhujbal, son Pankaj, nephew and ex-MP Sameer and few others.
A team of 20 officers of the Mumbai zonal unit of the agency conducted the operation.
Meanwhile, the NCP described the searches as “political vendetta”.
“This is vendetta politics. This has been done to support BJP whose Member of Parliament (MP) Kirit Somaiya first makes a statement and then two days later, action (by ED) happens,” NCP spokesperson Nawab Malik had said.
“This proves that BJP plans and the agencies execute it. Our party has full faith in (the) judiciary,” he had said.
The agency”s action came days after the Bombay High Court on January 28 sought progress reports from the Maharashtra Anti-Corruption Bureau and the ED in four weeks on their probe against Bhujbal and his family members.
The agency has filed two FIRs against the Bhujbals and others under the provisions of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA), based on earlier filed Mumbai police FIRs, to probe the Delhi-based Maharashtra Sadan construction scam and the Kalina land grabbing case.
The agency has also brought out three property attachment orders worth over ` 280 crore in this probe case under money laundering laws.
Government, in the last Parliament session in December, had said that PMLA investigations against Bhujbal and others have showed that entities which have subscribed to companies controlled by the politician”s family were “dubious” and their transactions were done only on paper. Minister of State for Finance Jayant Sinha, in a written reply in Lok Sabha on December 18, had said a case has been registered by the ED against Bhujbal, his family members including MLA son Pankaj, ex-MP nephew Sameer, a firm called Ms K S Chamankar Enterprises and others.
“Investigation conducted so far has revealed that the entities which have subscribed to the companies controlled by Bhujbals were dubious companies which existed only on paper and their transactions are not genuine transactions,” he had said.
The Bombay High Court, in December 2014, had constituted a Special Investigation Team comprising the ED Director and the Director General of state Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) to conduct the inquiry against the politician and others and submit a report to it.
The Mumbai police complaint names Pankaj and Sameer and they had been booked under IPC Sections related to cheating, criminal conspiracy, criminal breach of trust and relevant provisions of Maharashtra Ownership Flats Act.