PMC Bank: Money trail leading to Sanjay Raut's wife unearthed
The Enforcement Directorate (ED) on Friday attached properties worth Rs. 72 crore of Pravin Raut, in connection to the PMC Bank scam. As per the agency, his wife Madhuri gave Rs. 55 lakh to Varsha Raut, the wife of Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut. Earlier, Varsha was issued summons for questioning, a move that triggered Shiv Sena's ire. Here's what went down.
What is the PMC Bank scam?
In 2019, India's banking world was jolted by the news of PMC Bank secretly loaning 73% of its total loan book size (Rs. 8,880cr) to the realty developer Housing Development and Infrastructure Ltd (HDIL). Through specially-created dummy accounts, the bank gave money to the company despite non-payments. These transactions were allegedly hidden from RBI's audit. Later, RBI put a cap on withdrawals, directly affecting hundreds of customers.
Pravin Raut received money to buy land in Palghar area
ED, which launched a probe months ago, is of the opinion that Pravin Raut siphoned off Rs. 95 crore from PMC Bank in the name of Housing Development Infrastructures Ltd (HDIL). Citing the ledger of HDIL, ED said Pravin Raut was given money to purchase land in the Palghar area. Of the siphoned off funds, he gave Rs. 1.6 crore to his wife Madhuri.
Madhuri transferred money to Varsha in two instalments
Further, Madhuri transferred Rs. 55 lakh to Varsha in form of an "interest-free loan." While Rs. 50 lakh was transferred on December 23, 2010, the rest of the amount was given on March 15, 2011. This amount was used for buying a flat in Dadar East, Mumbai. "The investigation has revealed that Varsha Sanjay Raut and Madhuri Pravin Raut are partners in M/s Avani Construction," ED claimed.
ED believes it has enough evidence against Varsha
"Varsha Sanjay Raut has received Rs. 12 lakh from this entity (as overdrawn capital converted to loan) on a contribution of mere Rs. 5,625. The loan amount of Rs. 12 lakh still remains outstanding," the agency went on.
For third time last month, Varsha skipped ED's summons
Notably, it was last month that ED issued the latest summons to Varsha, asking her to participate in the questioning. She was asked to appear before a federal judge on December 29 but she didn't. Reports said she might participate in the investigation on January 5. Before December's summons, Varsha was called for questioning twice but she didn't turn up citing health reasons.
Sena fumed after Varsha was issued summons
After Varsha's name figured in the case, Shiv Sena, a former ally of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), hit back. Sanjay Raut, one of the most firebrand leaders of the party, had put up a tweet daring the federal government to "do whatever it could." The parliamentarian also said that details of the Rs. 55 lakh loan transaction have been submitted to ED.
BJP's poster was put up at ED's office
Unsurprisingly, the other constituents of the Maha Vikas Aghadi state government — Congress and NCP — claimed the BJP-led Centre was misusing central agencies for political vengeance. In fact, earlier this week, Sena workers put up a BJP banner outside ED's office in Mumbai. Defending ED, BJP leader Atul Bhatkhalkar said the agency issued summons to even an MLA who supported the saffron party.