Mumbai, Jun 26 (PTI) The then Maharashtra home minister Anil Deshmukh had received over Rs 4 crore from bar owners in Mumbai and channeled that money to his trust in the form of donations through various dummy companies, the Enforcement Directorate (ED) told a court here on Saturday.
The ED made this claim during the remand hearing of Deshmukh's personal secretary Sanjeev Palande and personal assistant Kundan Shinde.
Palande and Shinde were arrested in connection with a money laundering related to an alleged multi-crore bribery-cum-extortion racket that led to Deshmukh's resignation in April, officials said, adding the duo was booked under provisions of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA).
The duo was remanded in the ED custody till July 1.
Earlier in the day, Deshmukh who was asked to depose before the investigating officer at the ED office in Ballard Estate here by 11 am, sought a fresh date for appearance before the agency which had summoned him for questioning in a money laundering case.
A team of Deshmukh's lawyers visited the ED office and sought a fresh date for appearance. They also handed over a letter written by Deshmukh to the investigators.
The ED told the court that Palande and Shinde were instrumental in assisting Deshmukh in money laundering.
The ED case against Deshmukh and others is borne out after the CBI first carried out a preliminary enquiry (PE) followed by a regular case being filed on the orders of the Bombay High Court.
While seeking remand of the duo, the ED told the court that some bar owners/managers said in their statements that a meeting was held by Sachin Waze, the then head of crime intelligence unit (CTU), with the bar owners at his office regarding collection of money for smooth functioning of their orchestra bars after restricted hours without any restrictions on the performance artists.
It can be gathered from these statements that Waze had collected Rs 4.70 crore from various orchestra bar owners across Mumbai, the ED said.
Later, Waze said in a statement that he used to get direct instructions from the then home minister in a number of police investigations, the ED told the court.
According to Waze, he was given a list of bars and restaurant owners in a meeting held at the official residence of then Maharashtra home minister, the ED said. Waze said he had been asked to collect Rs.3 lakh per month from each bar and restaurant and therefore a meeting was arranged with various bar owners, the ED said, citing the sacked police officer's statement.
Waze has also stated that he had collected approximately Rs 4.70 crore from various bar owners between the months of December, 2020 and February, 2021, which he handed over to Kundan Shinde in two installments, the ED said.
Waze is currently under judicial custody in connection with the recovery of an explosives-laden SUV found near industrialist Mukesh Ambani's residence in south Mumbai and the subsequent murder of Thane-based businessman Mansukh Hiran probed by the NIA.
The ED said it came across Nagpur-based Shri Sai Shikshan Sanstha, a charitable trust, run by the Deshmukh familyduring the probe.
Anil Deshmukh is the chairman of this trust and his family members are trustees and members.
The trust is running engineering, MBA, and polytechnic colleges in Nagpur. However, scrutiny of bank statements of the trust revealed that there are a number of entries of cheques amounting to approximately Rs 4.18 crore in the recent past, the ED said The court was told that this amount was received by the trust from various companies based in Delhi.
The ED investigation has so far revealed that these companies exist only on paper and they work for providing 'transfer entries'.
During the searches conducted at four locations Delhi, it emerged that these companies are owned by Surendra Kumar Jain and his brother Virendra Jain, the ED said.
Their statements revealed that a person from Nagpur had contacted them and asked for transfer/adjustment entries in the garb of donation to the trust. Accordingly, money was received in the form of cash from that person on the instructions of the Deshmukh family and the same was channelized through a web of companies to the trust in the garb of donations, as per the ED.
Approximately Rs 4.18 crore was diverted to the trust in the garb of loans/donations, the ED said.
'Accordingly, it is apparent that Deshmukh by virtue of his earlier position as state home minister had received amounts to the tune of approx Rs 4.70 crore from the orchestra bars owners and the amount was apparently used by him through his son Hrishikesh for providing the cash to Delhi-based (on) paper companies. After layering, the same (money) was routed to the Shri Sai Shikshan Sanstha Trust in the form of donation,' the anti-money laundering agency said.
The ED's probe until now also revealed that there are 11 companies which are directly controlled by family members Anil Deshmukh. Further, another set of 13 companies are in the names of close associates of the Deshmukh family.
From the analysis of accounts of these companies it is clear that there is no rationale for transfers and it can thus be said that these series of transactions were meant for inflating the balance sheets and layering of money from one company to the other, the ED said.
The ED also stated it is apparent that Kundan Shinde is instrumental in collecting cash from Waze on the behalf of Deshmukh and assisted him in laundering the money.
Further, it has also emerged that Palande was instrumental in passing on the instructions of Deshmukh in regards to transfer, postings and collection of money from orchestra bars (to police officers).
As per the ED, Palande also played a role in analyzing and assessing the work of collection of tainted money through police officers.
Shinde and Palande had also received the money in the form of cash which needed to be investigated further, the ED said, adding Shinde and Palande were directly involved in the offence of money laundering.
Their custodial interrogation is the need of the hour in the interest of the ongoing investigation, the ED said.
The allegation of collection of about Rs 100 crore was made in this case. The entire money trail requires to be established in order to bring the guilty to book, it added.
The probe agency said the involvement of a foreign angle may not be ruled out at this stage.
The ED said Shinde and Palande have emerged as the important cog in the wheels and it is therefore imperative for the investigation to interrogate the duo in order to draw a logical conclusion in this case, it added.
In a letter to Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray after he was removed from the post of Mumbai police commissioner, IPS officer Param Bir Singh had alleged that Deshmukh, state home minister at that time, had directed dismissed policeman Waze to extort over Rs 100 crore per month from bars and restaurants in Mumbai.
The ED case against Deshmukh and others is borne out after the CBI first carried out a preliminary enquiry (PE), followed by the filing of a regular case on the orders of the Bombay High Court.
The CBI had booked Deshmukh and others under Indian Penal Code (IPC) sections related to criminal conspiracy and the Prevention of Corruption Act for 'attempt to obtain undue advantage for the improper and dishonest performance of public duty'. PTI AVI BNM NSK NSK