ED arrests alleged associate of Shiv Sena MLA in money laundering case

The agency, sources claimed, has also seized a debit card, issued by a foreign bank in the name of Sarnaik
Last Updated 26 November 2020, 08:10 IST

The Enforcement Directorate (ED) has arrested Amit Chandole, an alleged associate of Shiv Sena MLA Pratap Sarnaik, in connection with its money laundering case against a security service provider company and others, official sources said on Thursday.

They said Chandole has been arrested late Wednesday under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) and is expected to be produced before a local court for custody.

He was questioned by the ED on Wednesday.

The agency, they said, is probing Chandole's role and alleged suspect dealings with Sarnaik, Tops Grup security providing service and its promoter, Rahul Nanda, they said.

Nanda, as per media reports, had denied any wrongdoing.

Searches at ten premises of Sarnaik, Nanda and few others were launched by the ED on March 24 in neighbouring Thane and Mumbai.
A particular instance of the company providing security guards to a Maharashtra government organisation during 2014-15 is also under the ED scanner, they said.

The agency, sources claimed, has also seized a debit card, issued by a foreign bank in the name of Sarnaik, during the raids and its address is that of a Pakistani man based abroad.

The MLA will soon be questioned in this context, they said.

The Shiv Sena had earlier called the raids a "political vendetta" and said the Maharashtra government or its leaders will not surrender to pressure from anyone.

"The searches are being conducted on the Tops group (a company in the business of providing security) promoters and related people, including some politicians," an official source had said.

The ED case has been filed after studying a Mumbai Police economic offences wing FIR filed against the promoters of the business group on charges of alleged irregularities in the acquisition of some overseas assets in 2009 and the transactions of some trusts based abroad.

ED officials had also questioned the MLA's elder son Vihang.

Sarnaik, 56, represents the Oval-Maijwada constituency in the Maharashtra Legislative Assembly and is also a spokesperson for his party.

The legislator was in the news when he wrote a letter seeking re-opening of an alleged abetment to a suicide case of 2018 in which Republic TV's editor-in-chief Arnab Goswami was arrested by the Mumbai Police recently. Goswami is now out on bail.

"Sarnaik took a firm stand in connection with a channel and the Anvay Naik suicide case. Hence, such suppressive action...the entire Shiv Sena is with Sarnaik. The ED's action is a political matter," Raut said.

Sarnaik had also demanded a unanimous resolution in the Maharashtra Legislative Assembly for legal action against actress Kangana Ranaut, who, he said, has "maligned" the image of Maharashtra and Mumbai through her tweets.

"This action (ED raids) is a political vendetta. The ED or other agencies should not work as a branch of a political party," Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut had told reporters.

The Shiv Sena was earlier an ally of the BJP but snapped ties with it last year over the issue of sharing the chief ministerial post and it is in power in the state along with the NCP and the Congress.

(Published 26 November 2020, 08:10 IST)

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