Mumbai: Senior NCP leader and former Maharashtra deputy CM Chhagan Bhujbal, who was arrested by Enforcement Directorate (ED) last night, will be produced before Special Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) court in Mumbai sessions court today.
The development capped more than 11 hours of sustained interrogation and recording of the statement of Bhujbal by ED sleuths since Monday afternoon. Bhujbal, accompanied by party colleague Jitendra Awhad, several legislators, a large number of party activists and his supporters from Nashik reached the ED office in response to its summons of March 8.
The summons followed a complaint by BJP MP Kirit Somaiya in connection with cases lodged under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act and Foreign Exchange Management Act pertaining to alleged irregularities in the construction of the new Maharashtra Sadan in New Delhi, allegedly worth several hundred crores of rupees.
While the ruling BJP welcomes the move, the NCP claimed Bhujbal was innocent. Reacting to the ED moves, Somaiya said, "Bhujbal's arrest was inevitable and predicted that the same fate awaits other NCP leaders involved in the mega irrigation scams which he has unearthed.”
The Maharashtra ACB had last month filed a chargesheet in the Mumbai Sessions Court against Chhagan Bhujbal and his family members in connection with the Maharashtra Sadan construction scam. The ED had on February 1 arrested Sameer Bhujbal, the nephew of Chhagan Bhujbal, in a money laundering case in Mumbai after the agency conducted multiple searches in connection with its probe against Bhujbals and others.
According to the ED, the Bhujbals “played a crucial role in laundering huge amounts of money and not coming out with true facts” in a scam where the state exchequer has lost Rs 870 crore.
The ED has alleged that the books of accounts of some of the firms controlled by Bhujbals reflect unexplained transactions which, the agency suspects, are nothing but “kickbacks received by the Bhujbals”.
The ED has also alleged that Bhujbals accepted cash in lieu of projects to contractors and “channelled such illegal cash into various companies and integrated it into business activities of the group companies”.
On June 17, 2015, the ED filed two FIRs under the stringent PMLA against Chhagan Bhujbal and his son and nephew for money laundering. This was after the ACB searched 26 properties of Chhagan Bhujbal as part of its investigations into alleged irregularities in the award of a contract of over Rs 100 crore for three projects in 2006 when Bhujbal was deputy CM and PWD minister.
Bhujbal, through firms and trusts controlled by his family, is also accused of receiving huge kickbacks in exchange of award of contracts without following rules and procedures.
Investigating agencies are also looking into alleged corruption in the award of contracts during his tenure as Maharashtra's PWD minister.