ED searches Bhujbals', associates premises; Pol vendetta: NCP

ED searches Bhujbals', associates premises; Pol vendetta: NCP

The Enforcement Directorate(ED) today conducted multiple searches in Mumbai in connection with its money laundering probe against senior NCP leader and former Maharashtra PWD minister Chhagan Bhujbal and others.

ED officials said the nine premises covered under the action included properties and offices belonging to Bhujbal, son Pankaj, nephew and ex-MP Samir and few others.

A team of 20 officers of the Mumbai zonal unit of the agency is conducting the operation, they said. The NCP described the searches as "political vendetta".

"This is vendetta politics. This has been done to support BJP whose Member of Parliament (MP) Kirit Somaiya first makes a statement and then two days later, action (by ED) happens," NCP spokesperson Nawab Malik said.

"This proves that BJP plans and the agencies execute it. Our party has full faith in (the) judiciary," he said.

ED officials said the investigating officer of the case is also recording the statement of Samir at its office here after he was summoned for questioning sometime back.

The agency's action came days after the Bombay High Court on January 28 sought progress reports from the Maharashtra Anti-Corruption Bureau and the ED in four weeks on their probe against Bhujbal and his family members.

The agency has filed two FIRs against the Bhujbals and others under the provisions of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA), based on earlier filed Mumbai police FIRs, to probe the Delhi-based Maharashtra Sadan construction scam and the Kalina land grabbing case.

The agency has also brought out three property attachment orders worth over Rs 280 crore in this probe case under money laundering laws.

Government, in the last Parliament session in December, had said that PMLA investigations against Bhujbal and others have showed that entities which have subscribed to companies controlled by the politician's family were "dubious" and their transactions were done only on paper.

Minister of State for Finance Jayant Sinha, in a written reply in Lok Sabha on December 18, had said a case has been registered by the ED against Bhujbal, his family members including MLA son Pankaj, ex-MP nephew Samir, a firm called Ms K S Chamankar Enterprises and others.

"Investigation conducted so far has revealed that the entities which have subscribed to the companies controlled by Bhujbals were dubious companies which existed only on paper and their transactions are not genuine transactions," he had said.

The Bombay High Court, in December 2014, had constituted a Special Investigation Team comprising the ED Director and the Director General of state Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) to conduct the inquiry against the politician and others and submit a report to it.

The Mumbai police complaint names Pankaj and Samir and they had been booked under IPC Sections related to cheating, criminal conspiracy, criminal breach of trust and relevant provisions of Maharashtra Ownership Flats Act.

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