Mumbai: Senior NCP leader Chhagan Bhujbal will be produced before a Special PMLA court in a case of money laundering filed against him in connection with the Maharashtra Sadan scam.
Former Maharashtra PWD Minister Bhujbal is in the custody of Enforcement Directorate until today (March 17) in connection with the Maharashtra Sadan scam case.
Bhujbal, who broke down in the court at one point while presenting his side, claimed that he was innocent.
"I have cooperated (with ED). I have been in social service for the past fifty years. When some questions were put to me (by ED), I honestly said I did not know but still I was arrested," he had said.
He said he did not grant the contract in question (Maharashtra Sadan guest-house in Delhi) and only followed the directions of the then Chief Minister (the late) Vilasrao Deshmukh to attend meetings (related to the project), he added.
Some disgruntled employees of the Mumbai Education Trust (MET), a trust run by him, cooked up the allegations, he claimed.
ED said in the remand application that contractor of Maharashtra Sadan project, K S Chamankar Enterprises, paid Rs 6.03 crore to Origin Infrastructure, a firm controlled by Bhujbals.
Prime Builders and Developers to whom Chamankar sub-contracted the Maharashtra Sadan project, also "paid Rs 18.5 crore through their associates against dubious real estate deals", it said.
"In view of evidence and money trail available so far.. there are reasons to believe that Bhujbal is guilty of the offence of money laundering," the ED said.
The fund transfer from Prime Builders to the firms controlled by the Bhujbal family was nothing but quid pro quo for awarding Chamankars the Maharashtra Sadan project, it said, adding that Bhujbal, a cabinet minister in the then (Congress-NCP) government, was apparently the prime mover in awarding of the work.
A former employee of MET, Amit Balraj, said that he had seen huge leather bags containing cash being brought to the ninth floor of MET office here and the notes being counted by counting machines and kept at the cash-room at MET office.
The notes used to be of Rs 1,000 denomination with each bag containing approximately Rs one crore, ED said.
Balraj also heard Sameer Bhujbal (Bhujbal's nephew, already arrested) instructing his associates about some persons bringing cash to MET building but Chhagan Bhujbal, when asked about such cash transactions, denied any knowledge, ED said.
These proceeds of crime, generated through "criminal activities of Chhagan Bhujbal" were further laundered through companies of Sameer and Pankaj Bhujbal as well as other Bhujbal-controlled companies in which the employees of MET were 'dummy directors', the remand plea said. Some of these companies existed only on paper, it said.
The former minister didn't cooperate with ED and maintained "deliberate silence" about the modus operandi to favour Chamankar Enterprises and especially the origin of cash which was circuitously routed through hawala operators back to companies controlled by Pankaj, his son, ED said.
The Directors of Origin Infrastructure and Niche Infrastructure told ED that they were only dummy directors installed by Bhujbals, it said.
Bhujbal's present residence, `Solitaire' building in suburban Mumbai, "itself is prima facie proceeds of crime and has been attached", and this made his role in money-laundering obvious," ED said.
The documents obtained from individuals/firms, statements of bank accounts, etc., show the generation of huge "illicit funds" and laundering by Bhujbal family, ED's remand plea said.
Bhujbals were also paid through "phony" real estate transactions from 2006 onwards, the ED said.