Deshmukh received Rs. 4cr from 10 bar-owners for 3-months: ED
The Enforcement Directorate (ED) on Friday carried out searches at the premises of Maharashtra's former Home Minister Anil Deshmukh in Mumbai and Nagpur in connection with a money laundering case. An investigation by the probe agency has unearthed a money trail of Rs. 4 crore that was paid to Deshmukh by 10 bar owners in Mumbai for three months during his tenure. Here's more.
The ED reportedly conducted a search operation at four locations on Friday, including Deshmukh's residences in Nagpur and Mumbai. Based on evidence regarding alleged cash payments from bar owners to Deshmukh, the agency also searched the premises of his Personal Assistant Kundan Shinde and Personal Secretary Sanjeev Palande. The statements of over 10 bar owners have been recorded by the ED in this case.
Earlier, the anti-money laundering agency had conducted searches at the residence of Sagar Bhatewar, who is a close aide of Deshmukh, in Nagpur on April 25. Bhatewar is also the director of several firms that are controlled by the Deshmukh family.
To recall, Deshmukh resigned as Maharashtra's Home Minister on April 5 after the Bombay HC ordered the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to probe allegations leveled against him by former Mumbai Police chief Param Bir Singh in March. Singh alleged that Deshmukh gave former Assistant Inspector Sachin Vaze and ACP Sanjay Patil a target of collecting Rs. 100 crore a month from Mumbai-based bars/restaurants.
On March 20, just days after being replaced as the Mumbai Police Commissioner, Singh made explosive allegations of corruption against the then Home Minister Deshmukh in an eight-page letter to Maharashtra CM Uddhav Thackeray. However, the senior Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader denied all allegations.
The ED's investigation into Deshmukh's financial transactions is in line with CBI's probe into the aforementioned allegations that he instructed Vaze and Patil to illegally collect Rs. 100 crore a month from 1,750 Mumbai-based bars/restaurants. The CBI said Deshmukh obtained undue advantage and influenced the Mumbai Police's transfers/postings using his official position. Based on the CBI's FIR, the ED registered a case against him.
Meanwhile, Vaze is under the National Investigation Agency's (NIA) investigation for his alleged role in the case relating to the bomb scare at Antilia—billionaire industrialist Mukesh Ambani's residence—and businessman Mansukh Hiren's murder. Earlier, Vaze submitted a letter to the NIA court supporting Singh's allegations, claiming Deshmukh demanded Rs. 2 crore for his reinstatement in the Mumbai Police. However, the letter wasn't taken on record.