ED grills NCP leader Khadse in money-laundering case

·3-min read

Mumbai, Jul 8 (PTI) Former Maharashtra minister and NCP leader Eknath Khadse spent about nine hours before ED investigators here on Thursday after he appeared before them to face questioning in a money-laundering case, a day after his son-in-law was arrested by the federal agency in an alleged land grab deal of 2016.

Khadse, 68, told reporters while entering the Enforcement Directorate (ED) zonal office in south Mumbai's Ballard Estate area around 11 am that the probe in the case is 'politically motivated'.

'I have deposed earlier too (before the ED).... I will cooperate with the agency today also. Entire Maharashtra and the country knows that this is a politically motivated case.

'Enquiry has been done five times in this case. How many times will they do it? The Anti-Corruption Bureau filed a 'C' summary report before a Pune court earlier, saying the allegations in this case are baseless,' he said.

The Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader left the agency office shortly after 8 pm but did not speak to the reporters waiting outside.

A lawyer from his team told the reporters that they have given all documents related to the land deal to the agency and some more will be submitted soon.

Sources said Khadse's statement was recorded under the anti-money laundering law.

The questioning comes a day after the ED arrested his son-in-law Girish Chaudhari in the case, which is linked to a 2016 instance of an alleged government land grab in Pune.

Chaudhari will be in ED custody till July 12.

Khadse left the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to join the Sharad Pawar-led NCP late last year and was once questioned by the ED in connection with the case in January.

The ED case stems from a Pune police Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) FIR filed against Khadse, his wife Mandakini and Chaudhari in April 2017.

The agency has alleged that 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 owned by the state-run MIDC is located in the Haveli taluka of Bhosari, a suburb of Pune district and bears the survey no. 52/2A/2.

The ED had issued a statement on Wednesday to describe Chaudhari's alleged role in the deal, saying '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 of more than 2.5-3 times of the actual value of the land'.

'The land was registered at a much lower rate of only Rs 3.75 crore against the prevailing value of Rs 31 crore,' it had claimed.

The ED probe found that the accused 'claimed the source of fund 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 agency has alleged.

Khadse, the then revenue minister of Maharashtra, resigned from the Devendra Fadnavis-led cabinet in 2016 after facing allegations regarding the land deal and some other issues.

It was alleged that he misused his official powers to facilitate the deal.

Khadse has denied any wrongdoing, saying the ACB as well as the Income Tax department have given him a clean chit in the matter. PTI NES RC

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