'Politically motivated,' says NCP leader Khadse on money laundering probe
(Sourced from PTI)
Former Maharashtra Revenue Minister and NCP leader Eknath Khadse on Thursday appeared before the Enforcement Directorate in Mumbai in a money laundering case investigation a day after his son-in-law was arrested by the federal agency. Khadse, 68, told reporters outside the ED's zonal office in the Ballard Estate area of South Mumbai that the probe in the case is "politically motivated." Here's more.
The agency had summoned Khadse to depose and record his statement in the case that is linked to a 2016 instance of an alleged government land grab case in Pune. The Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader who left the BJP to join the Sharad Pawar-led party last year had been once questioned by the ED in this case in January this year.
"I will cooperate with the agency...today also I have come for the same. This is a politically motivated case...entire Maharashtra and the country is seeing this. Inquiry has been done five times in this case. How many times will they do it?" Khadse said.
The ED case stems from an FIR filed by the anti-corruption bureau (ACB) of the Pune Police against Khadse, his wife Mandakini, and his son-in-law Girish Chaudhari in April 2017. The agency claimed that alleged irregularities in the land deal caused a loss of Rs. 61.25 crore to the exchequer "by fraudulently entering into a sale deed."
The plot under the scanner is owned by the state-run Maharashtra Industrial Development Corporation (MIDC) and is located in the Haveli Taluka of Bhosari, a suburb of Pune district, and it bears the survey number 52/2A/2.
The ED issued a statement on Wednesday describing the alleged role of Chaudhari in the deal. The agency said, "With the connivance of others, he knowingly entered into a sale deed to acquire the said land despite the land belonging to the Maharashtra Industrial Development Corporation (MIDC) to avail a compensation more than 2.5-3 times of the actual value of land."
"The land was registered at a much lower rate of only Rs. 3.75 crore against the prevailing value of Rs. 31 crore," the ED said. The probe found the accused claimed the source of funds to purchase the said property as loan from some companies.
"However, it is revealed that these funds were layered and routed through shell companies, which are either dysfunctional or struck off (from the government record books) later on," the ED alleged. Khadse, the then state revenue minister, had resigned from the former Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis-led Maharashtra cabinet in 2016 after facing allegations regarding the same land deal and a few other issues.
It was alleged that Khadse misused his official powers to facilitate this deal. He, however, had denied any wrongdoing saying that the state police, the ACB, as well as the Income Tax Department, had given him a clean chit in the matter.