New Delhi/Mumbai, Jun 25 (PTI) The Enforcement Directorate (ED) on Friday conducted searches at the premises of former Maharashtra home minister Anil Deshmukh and his associates in Nagpur and Mumbai as part of a money laundering probe against the politician on Rs 100 crore bribery charges, officials said.
They said the raids are being carried out under provisions of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) and the locations include Deshmukh's residence at GPO Chowk in Nagpur and that of his personal secretary Sanjeev Palande and personal assistant Kundan Shinde in Mumbai.
Deshmukh (71), sources said, was at his residence in Worli area of Mumbai that was also covered in the search.
Investigators brought Palande to the ED office in Ballard Estate area of Maharashtra's capital city for questioning around noon, they said.
On Wednesday, the agency had questioned dismissed Mumbai Police officer Sachin Waze at the Taloja jail in Navi Mumbai where he is lodged in a NIA case and recorded his statement, they said.
The central probe agency had registered a criminal case under the anti-money laundering law against Deshmukh and others last month after studying a CBI FIR.
The ED case came about after the CBI first carried out a preliminary enquiry followed by filing a regular case on the orders of the Bombay High Court that asked it to look into the allegations of bribery made against Deshmukh by former Mumbai Police Commissioner Param Bir Singh.
Officials said the search teams are looking for additional evidence that can be important for their probe.
The teams are trying to gather evidence and record statements to substantiate the claims made by about 10 bar owners to the ED that they paid about Rs 4 crore 'bribe' in cash that was allegedly handed over to the former home minister.
Official sources said these claims have been recorded by the agency under the PMLA and it is trying to corroborate it with additional evidence.
Some alleged associates of Deshmukh in Nagpur were raided by the ED last week.
Deshmukh, who had to resign from his post in April following the allegations, has denied any wrongdoing.
The agency's probe is focused on the allegation that illicit funds were generated in the transfer, posting of police personnel in Maharashtra and if illegal extortion was done by the cops as claimed by Singh in his complaint.
The ED has powers to attach assets of the accused during the investigation stage and later file charge sheets against them before a PMLA court for trial.
Singh was shunted out from the post after the role of Waze surfaced during investigation of the explosive-laden SUV that was found parked near industrialist Mukesh Ambani's house in Mumbai.
In his letter to Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray after he was removed from the Police Commissioner's post, Singh had alleged that Deshmukh had asked Waze to extort over Rs 100 crore a month from bars and restaurants of Mumbai.
Deshmukh, a leader of the NCP, was the home minister of the state in the MVA government headed by Thackeray.
The CBI booked Deshmukh and others under Indian Penal Code (IPC) sections related to criminal conspiracy and section of Prevention of Corruption Act for 'attempt to obtain undue advantage for improper and dishonest performance of public duty'.
'The preliminary enquiry prima facie revealed that a cognisable offence is made out in the matter, wherein the then home minister of Maharashtra, Shri Anil Deshmukh and unknown others have attempted to obtain undue advantage for improper and dishonest performance of their public duty,' the CBI FIR had alleged.
The CBI enquiry found Waze, assistant inspector of Mumbai Police, had been reinstated into the police force after being out of service for more than 15 years.
Waze was entrusted with some of the most sensational and important cases of Mumbai city and Deshmukh was in knowledge of the said fact, the CBI FIR alleged.
It alleged that Deshmukh and others exercised undue influence over the transfer and posting of officials and thereby exercising undue influence over the performance of government duties by the officials, it claimed.
After registering the FIR on April 21, the CBI had also carried out searches in Mumbai and Nagpur at premises linked to the former minister who resigned after the high court had ordered a CBI probe against him in connection with this case. PTI NES ZMN