The Enforcement Directorate (ED) has secured police remand of former Maharashtra Home Minister and Nationalist Congress Parrty (NCP) leader, Anil Deshmukh (71) till November 6, in Rs 100 crore money laundering cum extortion case. The special PMLA court of Mumbai headed by Judge PB Jadhav granted police remand following evidence produced by Additional Solicitor General Anil Singh who argued for the ED.
ED said there were pieces of evidence suggesting the minister had allegedly entered into deals through several companies and a possible foreign angle in the entire money laundering can’t be ruled out. The agency produced a list of 27 companies managed by Deshmukh family or the close associates of the family for the purpose of money laundering. In the remand application the ED categorically mentioned how money was laundered through companies and trusts. Deshmukh’s son Hrishikesh had allegedly used his education trust Shri Sai Shikshan Sanstha to launder money through fake donation offered by Surendra and Virendra Jain. ED mentioned this in its remand application.
“The trust is formed, managed & controlled by Anil Deshmukh and his family members and (they) laundered the bribe money with the help of said Delhi-based paper companies,” the ED’s remand application said. The ED further said there were pieces of evidence suggesting the minister had allegedly entered into deals through several companies and a possible foreign angle in the entire money laundering can’t be ruled out.
The agency had arrested Deshmukh on Tuesday following 12 hours of questioning in the money laundering cum extortion case. ED started a money-laundering probe against the then home minister on the basis of an FIR lodged by the CBI on April 21.
The case, in brief, is that Param Bir Singh who was removed and shunted as Mumbai police Commissioner by Uddhav Thackeray led Shiv Sena-NCP-Congres government had alleged that Deshmukh as the home minister had directed controversial cop Sachin Waze to collect Rs. 100 crore every month from bars, restaurants and other establishments from Mumbai including Rs 40-50 crore from 1,750 bars and restaurants. He had made the allegation in the eight pages-letter he had written to the Maharashtra Chief Minister.
This witnessed a batch of criminal PIL namely by Param Bir Singh and lawyer Jaishri Patil before Bombay High Court for a fair probe. Calling the situation unprecedented the Bombay High Court ordered CBI to carry a preliminary inquiry ino the matter.
The defense lawyer Vikram Chaudhary and Aniket Nigam opposed his remand and said that Deshmukh was implicated due to political reasons. They contended that the ED had told the Bombay High Court and Supreme Court that Deshmukh was “at worse, a suspect” and not an accused. Deshmukh’s lawyers demanded ED to explain on how all of a sudden he became accused from suspect. To this ED said that investigation has revealed Deshmukh’s family members directly control 13 companies whereas there are as many as 14 companies managed by people close to the family.
The ED pointed out that these compoaines were used to layer and rotate ill-begotten money. The ED further said that some of these companies have no actual business and these are being used for rotation of funds. The agency said that the custody of the former minister was very much required to establish the money trail as the allegation of Rs 100 Crore laundering has been made. A foreign angle, too, can’t be ruled out at this stage,” the ED said. It further added that minister was directly involved in the money laundering.
Offering samples of money laundering the ED said that some of these companies had unsecured loans from Ahmedabad based various persons without having any written agreement for such loans. ED said that there was a company having an asset value of Rs 4.75 crore which was taken over by a company owned by Deshmukh for a mere Rs 3.65 lakh in 2010. Within a short span of time Deshmukh’s company sold it for Rs 4.75 crore.
Deshmukh is also accused of having received illegal gratification of approximately Rs 4.7 crore in cash from various orchestra bar owners between December 2020 and February 2021, when he was Home Minister of Maharashtra.