The Enforcement Directorate (ED) is not likely to allow NCP chief Sharad Pawar enter its Mumbai office on Friday to “submit information” related to the alleged ₹25,000-crore scam in a Maharashtra cooperative bank.
Sharad Pawar, who is an accused in the scam, had on Wednesday asserted that he will visit the ED office on Friday (September 27) on his own and furnish “whatever information” has been sought by the agency, reported news agency PTI.
It said, quoting ED officials, it is the prerogative of “investigating officer” to decide to question any accused and that such decisions are taken when there are reasons to do so. The officials added that Pawar has not been summoned yet and will be called for questioning whenever required.
As mentioned during my press conference yesterday, I will be visiting the Mumbai ED office at Ballard Estate tomorrow, Friday 27 September, at 14.00 hrs. @MumbaiPolice @NCPspeaks
— Sharad Pawar (@PawarSpeaks) September 26, 2019
Meanwhile, Pawar, in a tweet on Thursday (September 26), confirmed that he will be visiting the ED office at 2 PM on Friday while urging his party workers not to gather near the agency’s office during his visit.
The agency, meanwhile, is in the process of gathering additional evidence and statements since the case was registered in connection with the alleged scam at the Maharashtra State Cooperative Bank (MSCB).
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The probe agency, it is understood, has sought additional police security at its Mumbai zonal office in Ballard Estate in view of the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief’s public declaration of visiting their office.
The Mumbai office of the agency has separate depositions and other probe-related work scheduled on Friday and the agency officials will require a safe and secure environment to carry out their work, they said. It has also sought certain documents from different agencies like banks involved in the case.
As part of its complaint filed under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA), the ED is probing allegations that the former top executives, chairmen, MDs, directors, CEOs and managerial staff of MSCB and office-bearers of cooperative sugar factories (CSF) were given loans in an illegitimate manner.
It had filed a PMLA case against Pawar, his nephew and former deputy chief minister of the state Ajit Pawar, and about 70 others on September 23 to probe alleged irregularities in grant of loans and other processes.
In the complaint, the agency has alleged several irregularities in the sanctioning of the loans committed with the only purpose of extending benefits to the directors of the leading bank for personal gains, thereby defrauding and cheating the MSCB and its shareholders. It has said that the loans were sanctioned to CSFs despite having “weak financials and negative net worth.”
“No collateral was taken in many cases and loans were extended on basis of fraudulent and dishonest representation to the bank,” the ED was quoted as saying by PTI.
Also read | ED books Sharad Pawar, nephew in money laundering case
The ED case is based on a Mumbai Police FIR that had named the then directors of the bank, former deputy chief minister of the state Ajit Pawar and 70 former functionaries of the cooperative bank. Sharad Pawar, a former CM of Maharashtra, has been named in the ED complaint on the basis of the police FIR, they said.
The registration of the case came right ahead of the October 21 Assembly elections in the state. The Mumbai Police FIR that was filed in this case in August came about on the basis of a similar complaint registered by the state economic offences wing (EOW).
The EOW was asked by the Bombay High Court to file a case after a bench of Justices SC Dharmadhikari and SK Shinde said there was “credible evidence” against the accused in the case.
As per the police FIR, the state exchequer allegedly suffered losses to the tune of ₹25,000 crore due to the MSCB scam between January 1, 2007 and December 31, 2017.
The offence has been registered against the then chief ministers, deputy chief ministers, ministers, politicians, government officials, the then directors and senior officials of MSCB, district central bank, and directors of Pen Cooperative Bank, according to the FIR.
(With inputs from agencies)