Mumbai, Jun 26 (PTI) Suspended police officer Sachin Waze has told the ED that he 'collected' Rs 4.70 crore cash from Mumbai bar owners and 'handed it over' to the personal assistant of former Maharashtra home minister Anil Deshmukh, the central probe agency claimed on Saturday.
It also claimed that Waze, the former head of crime intelligence unit (CIU) of Mumbai police, informed the bar owners and managers that this money 'will go to No.1 and crime branch and social service branch of Mumbai Police'.
He further told the agency that 'he was getting direct instructions from Anil Deshmukh, the then home minister in a number of police investigations'.
The ED made these allegations in its remand application field before a special Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) court in Mumbai seeking custody of Deshmukh's aides, personal secretary Sanjeev Palande (51) and personal assistant Kundan Shinde (45) whom it had arrested early on Saturday.
The court sent them to ED custody till July 1.
The ED had arrested them after it raided multiple locations in Nagpur, Mumbai and Ahmedabad including the residences of Deshmukh in a money laundering case related to an alleged multi-crore bribery-cum-extortion racket that led to his resignation in April.
The former cop recorded his statement with the ED saying he was 'called for a meeting at the official residence of Maharashtra home minister wherein he was given a list of bar and restaurant owners.' In the meeting, Waze said, he was asked 'to collect Rs 3 lakh per month from each bar and restaurant.' 'Waze has also stated that he had collected approx. Rs 4.70 crore from various bar owners between the months of December, 2020 to February, 2021 and handed over the same to Kundan Sambhaji Shinde, the PA of Anil Deshmukh, the home minister on instruction of Anil Deshmukh in two installments in the month of January and February 2021,' the ED alleged.
The agency said it questioned and recorded the statement of Waze twice at the Taloja jail in Navi Mumbai where he is in custody in connection with a case of alleged parking of an explosives laden SUV near industrialist Mukesh Ambani's residence in Mumbai.
This Rs 4.70 crore was collected from various orchestra bar owners and managers for 'smooth functioning of their bars after restricted hours without the restrictions of performance artist' and interference by the police, the ED said.
The ED said Waze's statement was 'further confirmed' by two police officers who were also questioned by it.
'They categorically mentioned that they were told by Waze about collection of money from various bar owners and both were called by Palande, the PS of Anil Deshmukh who inquired about number of bars and collections from the various bars,' the ED claimed.
The agency claimed that a part of this alleged cash bribe money was sent through hawala to four 'paper' or shell companies located in Delhi that later 'diverted' about Rs 4.18 crore funds 'in garb of donations' to a Nagpur based charitable trust whose chairman is Deshmukh.
The ED said during the scrutiny of bank statements of the charitable trust identified as Shri Sai Shikshan Sanstha 'a number of cheque entries in the recent past amounting to Rs 4.18 crore' were received by it from four Delhi-based shell companies.
The owners of these alleged fake companies told ED that they were contacted by a Nagpur based person seeking transfer/adjustment of funds in garb of donation to the said charitable trust.
'Money was received in form of cash from said (Nagpur based) person on instruction of Deshmukh family and same was channelised through web of various companies to the said trust in garb of loans/donations.' 'A total of about Rs 4.18 crore were thus diverted to the said trust in garb of loans or donations,' the ED said quoting the statements of the promoters Surendra Kumar Jain and Virendra Jain.
It is apparent, the ED said, that Deshmukh 'by virtue of his earlier position as home minister of Maharashtra government has received amounts to the tune of Rs 4.70 crore from the orchestra bars owners and managers for smooth functioning of bars and the said bribe money was apparently used by him through his son Hrishikesh Deshmukh for providing cash to Delhi based paper companies and after layering the same routed to the charitable trust in the form of donation,' the agency alleged.
It said Shinde was 'instrumental in collecting cash from Waze on behalf of Deshmukh.' Describing the role of Palande, the ED alleged, he was 'instrumental in passing instructions of Deshmukh with regard to transfer, postings and collection of monies from orchestra bar owners and further analysing and assessing the work of collection of tainted monies through police officials and assisted Deshmukh in money laundering.' It said both the aides of Deshmukh have emerged as 'important cogs in the wheels' of this case and they have also 'received money in cash.' The ED told the court that as an allegation of collection of about Rs 100 crore have been made in this case the entire money trail requires to be established in order to bring the guilty to the book.
'The involvement of foreign angle many not be ruled out at this stage,' it said.
The ED case against Deshmukh and others was made out after the CBI first carried out a preliminary inquiry followed by a regular case being filed on the orders of the Bombay High Court.
The court had asked the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to look into the allegations of bribery of Rs 100 made against Deshmukh by former Mumbai Police commissioner Param Bir Singh. PTI NES ZMN