Amid the ongoing political drama in Maharashtra, the ED has issued a new summons to Rajya Sabha member Sanjay Raut, a loyalist to Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray and the most vocal voice during Shiv Sena’s factional struggle , in a case relating to alleged irregularities in the redevelopment of a Mumbai ‘chawl’ and related financial real estate transactions.
The agency wants to interview Raut, 60, and file his statement under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) in this 2018 filed case that also involves his wife and alleged associates, officials said. .
Raut received an initial summons for Tuesday, but he asked for more time citing official commitments and a meeting he was supposed to attend in Alibaug in the Raigad district of the state.
His lawyers met with officials from the Directorate of Law Enforcement in Mumbai on Tuesday and requested about two weeks time for his appearance, but the agency only released him until the end of the month.
“The ED summons was served on Monday late afternoon, so we asked for time because the ED demanded some documents,” Raut’s lawyer told reporters after meeting with officials. from the agency to their regional office in the Ballard Estate area of South Mumbai.
The development comes at a time when the Shiv Sena is battling rebellion by a group of its MPs, putting a question mark over the future of the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government of Maharashtra. The rebel Shiv Sena legislators, who were first taken to Surat, are now camped in Guwahati.
Raut held a press conference in the morning and said he would “go” to the emergency room as soon as he was free.
“I’m a lawmaker. I know the law. Even though law enforcement agencies work the wrong way, I’m a law-abiding person,” he said.
On Monday, Raut called the ED summons a “conspiracy” to prevent him from fighting against his political opponents.
In April, the ED provisionally seized assets worth more than Rs 11.15 crore from Raut’s wife Varsha Raut and two of his associates in connection with the investigation.
The attached properties are in the form of land owned by Pravin M Raut, assistant to Sanjay Raut and former director of Guru Ashish Construction Pvt Ltd, in Palghar, Saphale (Palghar town) and Padgha (in Thane district).
Adjoining properties also include an apartment in the Mumbai suburb of Dadar owned by Varsha Raut and eight plots on Kihim Beach in Alibaug jointly owned by her and Swapna Patkar, wife of Sujit Patkar, a ‘close associate’ of Sanjay Raut , said the ED.
It is understood the agency wants to interview Sanjay Raut to find out about his “business and other ties” to Pravin Raut and Patkar as well as property deals involving his wife.
After arresting Pravin Raut in February, the ED said he appeared to be “acting as a front” or in collusion with one or more influential people.
The agency said during the investigation that it had been revealed that he had made payments to certain “politically exposed persons”.
In the Alibaug land deal, in addition to the recorded value, “cash” payments were made to the sellers, according to the agency.
Pravin Raut has been arrested by the ED in connection with an investigation related to an alleged land scam of Rs 1,034 crore linked to the redevelopment of Patra ‘chawl’ in Goregaon area of Mumbai. He is currently in custody.
Guru Ashish Construction Pvt Ltd has been involved in the redevelopment of Patra’s ‘chawl’ which had 672 tenants in buildings on 47 acres owned by the Maharashtra Housing Area Development Authority (MHADA), ED had said earlier.
Guru Ashish is a subsidiary of Housing Development Infrastructure Ltd. (HDIL). HDIL is being investigated by ED and a few other agencies in connection with the alleged fraud of around Rs 4,300 crore at the Punjab and Maharashtra Cooperative (PMC) Bank.
ED said Guru Ashish had entered into a “tripartite agreement” with the tenants and MHADA to redevelop the “chawl”.
Under the deal, ED said, the developer was to provide apartments for 672 tenants and develop apartments for MHADA. Subsequently, the remaining surface was to be sold by the promoter.
“Administrators of Guru Ashish Constructions tricked MHADA and managed to sell the FSI (Floor Area Index) to nine developers and collected around Rs 901.79 crore without constructing the rehabilitation part for 672 displaced tenants and the part MHADA,” he said.
This real estate company has also launched a project called Meadows and has taken the booking amount of around Rs 138 crore from apartment buyers.
“The total proceeds of crime generated by the directors of Guru Ashish Constructions Pvt Ltd through illegal activities was approximately Rs 1,039.79 crore. Some of the proceeds of crime were later transferred to close associates” , he alleged.
The ED investigation, conducted so far, revealed that “around Rs 100 crore was transferred from HDIL to Pravin Raut’s account”.
This amount was then “diverted” by Pravin Raut to various accounts of his close associates, family members, business entities, etc., he said.
“In 2010, part of proceeds of crime of Rs 83 lakh was received by Varsha Raut (wife of Sanjay Raut) directly/indirectly from Madhuri Pravin Raut, wife of Pravin Raut.”
“This amount was used by Varsha Raut for the purchase of an apartment east of Dadar,” the agency said.
ED investigations revealed that an amount of Rs 55 lakh was transferred by Varsha Raut to Madhuri Raut. There are also various other transactions, he said.
An indictment was filed by the agency in April against Pravin Raut.
The agency had interviewed Varsha Raut last year in connection with the PMC Bank affair and its alleged links with the wife of Pravin Raut.
Probe found that Varsha Sanjay Raut and Madhuri Pravin Raut “are partners in Avani Construction and Varsha Raut has received Rs 12 lakh from this entity (as discovered capital converted into loan) out of a contribution of only Rs 5,625”.