ED attaches Rs 6-crore worth land in Bengal illegal coal mining PMLA case

MUMBAI: A special court here on Wednesday remanded NCP leader Eknath Khadse’s son-in-law Girish Chaudhary in the Enforcement Directorate’s (ED) custody till July 12 in a money laundering case linked to alleged irregularities in a 2016 purchase of a land plot in Pune.

The ED told the court that the probe shows that the source of funds used for the purchase of land was “not genuine” and the money was routed through various companies, which it said were “shell companies”.

Chaudhary was arrested by the ED on Tuesday night after being questioned at length in connection with the case at the central investigative agency’s office in south Mumbai.

He was produced before a special Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) court, which remanded him in the agency’s custody for further probe.

The ED has alleged that Chaudhary and Khadse had purchased government land in Bhosari near Pune for Rs 3.75 crore when the actual cost of the land as per the valuation provided by the sub registrar was Rs 31.01 crore.

The agency said it appears that Khadse, the then revenue minister, by misusing his official position, had “coerced and forced” the officials concerned to facilitate the purchase of the Maharashtra Industrial Development Corporation (MIDC) land by his family in Bhosari.

In his statement to the ED, Chaudhary has said that he and his mother-in-law purchased the land for Rs 3.75 crore.

However, when asked about the real value of land, he remained evasive, the probe agency told the court.

The ED further said the probe shows that the source of funds for the purchase of land is “not genuine” and the money has been routed through various companies.

The companies which are used by Chaudhary to channel funds for purchase of the land are nothing but shell companies used by the accused for layering of funds, it said.

The probe agency sought his custody to “unearth the proceeds of the crime, the sources of the funds used to buy the land and its utilisation.

Opposing the remand plea, Chaudhary’s lawyer Mohan Tekavde said the accused was being targeted due to political vendetta.

He argued that there is no evasion of even a single penny and the land doesn’t belong to the MIDC as claimed by the ED.

There is a personal vendetta because of political rivalry of Khadse.

There is no case against Chaudhary.

He has been arrested to corner Khadse, the advocate added.

The special court judge S M Bhosle, after hearing both the sides, remanded the accused to the custody of ED till July 12.

Khadse, 68, had left the BJP to join the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) led by Sharad Pawar last year.

He was questioned in the case by the ED early this year.

Khadse had resigned from the then Devendra Fadnavis-led Maharashtra cabinet in 2016 after facing allegations regarding the same land deal.

He denied any wrongdoing, saying that the Maharashtra Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) as well as the Income Tax department had given him a clean chit in the matter.