The Enforcement Directorate (ED) on Monday summoned Shiv Sena spokesperson and Rajya Sabha MP Sanjay Raut in a money laundering case in connection with the re-development of Mumbai’s Patra Chawl case. Raut has been asked to appear before the ED investigators on Tuesday at 11 am, said an official privy to the development.
Raut is the second Shiv Sena leader to have been summoned by ED amid the deepening political crisis in Maharashtra.
However, Raut refused to appear before the ED and said that he would “seek time”. Soon after he received summons from the ED, Raut alleged there was a conspiracy to stop him from fighting a big battle and said that even if he is beheaded, he “will not take the Guwahati route.”
He said that he prefers to stay with the party in a time of crisis and will seek time from ED. While addressing the media persons on Monday, Raut said, “I knew ED is going to summon me, I won’t kneel down. No matter what the rebel MLAs do, I will not go to Guwahati. I am Balasaheb’s Shiv Sainik
and I will stay with my party. I will not appear before the ED tomorrow. I will seek time from ED, but will definitely go after some time,”
The move comes amid the ongoing political crisis in Maharashtra in which rebel Shiv Sena MLAs led by Eknath Shinde are camping in Guwahati.
Sanjay further said that Balasaheb’s Shivsainiks were fighting a big battle.
“I just came to know that ED has summoned me. Good! There are big political developments in Maharashtra. We, Balasaheb’s Shivsainiks are fighting a big battle. This is a conspiracy to stop me. Even if you behead me, I won’t take the Guwahati route. Arrest me!” he had earlier tweeted.
In April this year, the ED had also attached immovable properties worth Rs 11.15 crore, including a flat at Dadar, held by Sanjay’s wife Varsha and eight land parcels at Kihim near Alibag, jointly held by the latter with Swapna Patkar, in connection with the redevelopment scam. Swapna is the wife of Sujit Patkar, a close associate of the Sena leader.
The federal agency said its investigation revealed that around Rs 100 crore was transferred from the real estate company, HDIL, to the account of Pravin Raut, who in turn diverted part of these funds to various accounts of his close associates, family members, and business entities.
Praveen has been a director in an infrastructure company called Guruashish Constructions and is stated to be a subsidiary of HDIL, an accused in the case. He was arrested in the past by the Maharashtra police’s economic offences wing.
The ED’s summon to Raut, who is considered to be a confidant of Shiv Sena chief and Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray, comes amidst mounting trouble for the party in the wake of internal rebellion.
The federal agency has also been probing Rs 4,300 crore PMC Bank money laundering case against Varsha who was questioned last year under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) by the central probe agency.
The agency is probing her role in the alleged bank loan scam about the transfer of Rs 55 lakh funds by the wife of an accused in the case, Pravin, apart from some other transactions.
Last year, the ED had also attached Pravin’s assets worth Rs 72 crore in this case and has questioned him and his wife Madhuri Raut. The agency had alleged that Pravin had “siphoned off” Rs 95 crore worth funds from the scam-hit bank in the garb of loan, out of which he paid Rs 1.6 crore to his wife Madhuri who subsequently transferred Rs 55 lakh in two tranches to Varsha Raut, wife of Sanjay Raut, as “interest-free loan.”