Ex Dy CM Chhagan Bhujbal arrested in money laundering case

Chhagan-BhujbalDELHI/ MUMBAI: Maharashtra deputy CM Chhagan Bhujbal was on Monday arrested by the Enforcement Directorate in the alleged multi crore Maharashtra Sadan scam.
Last week ED has summoned Chhagan Bhujbal to be present on March 14 in connection with the case. Sameer Bhujbal, his nephew, was arrested by ED on February 1 under Section 19 of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA).
Last month, the ED questioned Chhagan Bhujbal’s son Pankaj Bhujbal in the case. The agency has also seized his passport to ensure that Pankaj does not leave the country.
The ED has alleged that Bhujbals have “played a crucial role in laundering huge amounts of money and not coming out with true facts” in a scam where the state exchequer has lost Rs 870 crore. The ED has alleged that the books of accounts of some of the firms controlled by Bhujbals reflect unexplained transactions which, the agency suspects, are nothing but “kickbacks received by the Bhujbals”.
The ED has alleged that Bhujbals accepted cash in lieu of projects to contractors and “channelled such illegal cash into various companies and integrated it into business activities of the group companies”. On June 17, 2015, the ED filed two FIRs under the stringent PMLA against Chhagan Bhujbal and his son and nephew for money laundering.
This was after the ACB searched 26 properties of Chhagan Bhujbal as part of its investigations into alleged irregularities in the award of a contract of over Rs 100 crore for three projects in 2006 when Bhujbal was deputy CM and PWD minister.
The contract which was given to M/s Chamankar Developers included construction of Maharashtra Sadan in Delhi, a new Regional Transport Office (RTO) building in Andheri, and a state guest house at High Mount, Malabar Hill, Mumbai. It is alleged the contracts were awarded without following rules and that, in return, firms and trusts controlled by the Bhujbal family received kickbacks.

Mr Bhujbal had earlier claimed that the Maharashtra government would not dare arrest him.The Enforcement Directorate alleges that the Bhujbals received kickbacks for awarding various government contracts, including the Maharashtra Sadan in Delhi, to the tune of Rs. 870 crore. Part of this money, the ED claims, was parked abroad and also routed into India through various shell companies located across the country.
One of these companies, Armstrong Energy, owned by the Bhujbals, is also under investigation.The agency had questioned the NCP leader earlier today. Anticipating trouble from his supporters, the police had imposed prohibitory orders in the area around the ED office in upscale Ballard Estate in south Mumbai.
The agency had arrested Mr Bhujbal’s nephew and former lawmaker Sameer Bhujbal on February 1. Mr Bhujbals’ son Pankaj, too, has been questioned.On February 24, Mr Bhujbal, Pankaj and a few others were chargesheeted – the accusations include cheating, forgery and conspiracy. The agency had also conducted searches at nine properties belonging to the Bhujbals as part of its probe.

The NCP had described the case as “political vendetta”. NCP spokesperson Jitendra Ahwad said today that Mr Bhujbal is being “victimised.””Party chief Sharad Pawar and all other members stand by Mr Bhujbal in this hour of crisis. We are here in full strength to support him,” he said.

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