PMC Bank scam: Sanjay Raut's wife summoned by Enforcement Directorate
In connection to the Punjab and Maharashtra Co-operative (PMC) Bank money laundering case, the Enforcement Directorate (ED) has issued summons to Varsha Raut, the wife of Shiv Sena's firebrand leader Sanjay Raut. She has been asked to appear before a federal judge for questioning on December 29. The wife of the parliamentarian had been called for questioning twice earlier but she failed to turn up citing health reasons.
Last year, 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.
Reportedly, Varsha is under scanner over the "receipt" of some funds, that were allegedly siphoned from the bank. ED is said to have found some transactions between her account and that of Pravin Raut, a director of HDIL's subsidiary Guruashish Constructions Private Limited. Pravin Raut was recently arrested as well. ED had initiated a probe under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) last year.
When asked about this development, the Sena leader said he was yet to receive a notice. "I do not care even if I receive it. They (ED) should do their work if it would be legal and they should be more careful if it would be illegal," Raut told TOI. On Twitter, however, he put a picture implying that he will not be intimidated.
The summons were bound to don political colors considering how Opposition parties have accused the federal government, led by Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), of misusing central agencies to silence voices. Taking the same tone, Nawab Malik of Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), said, "This is nothing but an attempt to threaten the leaders from Opposition parties by using the central agencies politically."
Similarly, Sachin Sawant of Congress, another component of the Maha Vikas Aghadi government, suggested that ED should shift its office to BJP headquarters. "It is expected to take action against wrongdoings under PMLA, but it seems to be acting under the Prevention of Opposition Leaders Act," Sawant said, as per HT. He argued that BJP has threatened democracy by misusing central agencies.
Taking on the Opposition, BJP's Atul Bhatkhalkar drew attention to the fact that ED has been probing the scam for eight months now. "It recently attached the property of Ratnakar Gutte, an MLA who has supported our party. This shows that the central agency is not taking action only against the non-BJP leaders," he said, adding that leaders shouldn't worry if they are innocent.
I heard about ED notice to Sanjay Raut Family. Will Mr Raut tell us, is his family beneficiary? Whether earlier any inquiry, notices received? 10 lacs Depositors r sufferers. If ED wants any information— Kirit Somaiya (@KiritSomaiya) December 27, 2020
Political Protection is not healthy idea.
All wants revival of PMC Bank. pic.twitter.com/PUqGUDL3pC