Mumbai: Former Maharashtra Revenue Minister and Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader Eknath Khadse appeared before the Enforcement Directorate (ED) on Thursday in connection with the money laundering probe. A day before this, his son-in-law was arrested by the federal agency.
Khadse, 68, told reporters outside the ED’s zonal office in south Mumbai’s Ballard Estate area that the probe into the case was “politically motivated”. He said, “I will cooperate with the agency… even today I have come for it. This is a politically motivated matter and the whole of Maharashtra and the country is watching it. This case has been investigated five times. How many more times will they check?
The agency had on Wednesday summoned the Nationalist Congress Party leader to record his statement after arresting Khadse’s son-in-law Girish Chaudhary in the case. The case pertains to an alleged government land deal in Pune in 2016.
Khadse had left the BJP last year to join former Maharashtra Chief Minister Sharad Pawar’s Nationalist Congress Party. The ED had questioned him in the case earlier this year. The ED case emerged from an FIR of the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) of the Pune Police, registered against Khadse, his wife Mandakini and Choudhary in 2017. The agency claimed that the alleged irregularities in land purchase caused a loss of Rs 61.25 crore to the exchequer. According to the ED, “forgery was done in the land sale deed”.
According to the ED, the land sold was owned by the government MIDC. This land is located in Haveli taluka of Bhosari, a suburb of Pune district. The survey number of the land is 52/2A/2. The agency issued a statement on Wednesday, informing about Chaudhary’s alleged role in the entire deal. According to the ED, Choudhary along with others intentionally got the name added in the land document even though the land belonged to the Maharashtra Industrial Development Corporation (MIDC). The name was added so that compensation could be obtained 2.5 to three times the actual price.
The MIDC land was bought for Rs 3.75 crore, while its market value was Rs 31 crore. During investigation, the accused claimed about the source of money for purchasing the land that he had received it in lieu of loans from some companies. According to the ED, it has been revealed in the investigation that these money have been received through fake companies, they do not work or their names have been removed from government documents.
Khadse had resigned from the Maharashtra cabinet led by then Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis in 2016 after facing allegations regarding the same land deal and some other issues. He was accused of abusing his position. He denied the allegations, saying that the Maharashtra Anti-Corruption Bureau as well as the Income Tax Department had given him a clean chit in the case.
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