After Maha s SIT ED hits back attaches assets of Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut s wife friends

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Mumbai, April 5

In what is billed as a 'counter-attack', the Enforcement Directorate (ED) on Tuesday slapped attachment orders on assets worth Rs 11.15 crore belonging to friends and wife of Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut in a money-laundering case — hours after the Maharashtra government formed a Special Investigation Team (SIT) to probe allegations of corruption against the central probe agency.

The ED said it has attached eight plots of land at Saphale in Palghar, Alibaug in Raigad districts, and a flat in a 32-storeyed building in Dadar east, Mumbai, which belongs to the wife of Raut – the Sena's Chief Spokesperson and a confidante of Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray.

This is the second too-close-for-comfort swoop by the ED in a fortnight after it attached assets worth around Rs. 6.50 crore linked with Thackeray's brother-in-law (brother of Rashmi Uddhav Thackeray) S.M. Patankar in Thane, in an alleged money-laundering case.

Today's shock attachments are part of the ED's ongoing probe into the Rs 1,035-crore Patra Chawl 47-acre land-scam case in which Raut's friend Pravin Raut was arrested and a chargesheet filed in the matter last week.

The attachments include: plots of land belong to a realtor Pravin M. Raut, a former Director or Guru Ashish Constructions Pvt. Ltd. (GACPL), beach properties jointly held by Varsha (Sanjay) Raut and Swapna Sujit Patkar, and the Dadar flat owned by Varsha (Sanjay) Raut.

Reacting to the developments, Sanjay Raut said in New Delhi that the flat was attached without serving notice, but he was "not scared of even the father of ED" and would continue his exposure against the ED officers.

"I am a fighter and a Shiv Sainik… I am not scared of even the 'baap' (father) of the ED… They have attached properties made out of my hard-earned money," Raut declared.

The fast-paced developments on Tuesday came nearly two months after Sanjay Raut wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Vice-President & Rajya Sabha Chairman M. Venkaiah Naidu on February 28, levelling serious charges against the ED and accusing the central agency of running an 'extortion racket' in Mumbai.

"We have set up a SIT to probe these allegations…. It's headed by Additional Commissioner of Police Viresh Prabhu. We will give them whatever time period required for its investigations," said Walse-Patil, just hours prior to the ED action on the Sena MP.

The ED said the action came in the probe into GACPL into an FIR lodged by Maharashtra Housing & Area Development Authority on March 13, 2018 (when the erstwhile Bharatiya Janata Party-led government was in office).

The MHADA complaint named GAPCL, Rakesh Kumar Wadhawan and Sarang Kumar Wadhawan (both of HDIL and accused in the Punjab & Maharashtra Cooperative Bank scam), and others.

The ED probe revealed that GAPCL was given the task of redevelopment of nearly century-old Patra Chawl with 672 tenants and a tri-partite agreement was signed with MHADA comprising GAPCL and the Wadhawans, to build the tenants' flats, flats for MHADA and the rest to be sold in the open market.

The GAPCL misled the state government's apex housing body and siphoned off the plot's FSI to 9 other developers, collecting Rs 902 crore, without constructing either the tenants' or MHADA's flats.

Besides, GAPCL launched another project called 'Meadows', collected Rs 138 crore from the flat buyers and the total fraud amounted to Rs 1,035 crore, said the agency.

The ED said Rs 100 crore was transferred to the HDIL accounts of Pravin Raut, and later diverted to other entities and his family members.

It claimed that in 2010, an amount of Rs 55 lakh was received by Sanjay Raut's wife, Varsha (Sanjay) Raut, from Pravin Raut's wife Madhuri.

The ED action attracted huge flak from the ruling Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) allies, including Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) President and Minister Jayant Patil, Walse-Patil, Chief Spokesperson Mahesh Tapase, Congress Revenue Minister Balasaheb Thorat, President Nana Patole, Shiv Sena's MoS Kishore Tiwari, MP Arvind Sawant and other seniors from the 3 parties.

The political bigwigs pointed fingers at the BJP for "misusing" the central probe agencies like ED, CBI, ITD, NCB, etc., to target MVA leaders to topple the Maharashtra government, and accused the ED of 'leaking probe information' to some BJP activists.

In his complaint to the PM and VP, Raut had submitted a list of the victims comprising realtors and corporate from whom the ED officers allegedly extorted crores of rupees with the help of one Jitendra Navlani under threats of framing them in various cases, and the agency acting like the 'ATM' of BJP.

Later, Shiv Sena leader Arvind Bhosale lodged a police complaint which initiated the probe and now it will be further investigated by the SIT.


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