MUMBAI: Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut used an additional Rs 1.17 crore of proceeds from crime for purchasing land at Alibaug, while his wife Varsha received Rs 1.08 crore into her bank account, the Enforcement Directorate (ED) informed the special PMLA court on Thursday. The Rauts also received Rs 1.06 crore from Pravin Raut, a key accused in the Patra Chawl redevelopment case, the ED told the court.
While seeking eight-day extension of the Rajya Sabha MP’s custody, the ED said his replies about the transactions have so far been evasive. The court extended his custody till August 8 and said “remarkable progress” had been made in the probe. Raut was arrested on Monday. The agency has also summoned his wife to record her statement in the case on Friday.
The ED is now in the process of recording statements of those who received cash payments from Sanjay Raut for the Alibaug land he is alleged to have purchased using payoffs from a developer linked to the Mhada project. Those who deposited funds into his wife’s account are also being questioned.
The ED has called those associated with the Alibaug land deal to record their statements on Friday and Saturday. The ED informed the court that “the names of the persons are not disclosed in this (Raut’s) remand application so that the persons are not influenced by the accused.”
The ED alleged that these “documents demonstrate…purchase of the properties in Alibaug and substantial cash transactions with the land owners.” The agency has also alleged that Raut threatened landowners near Kihim beach in Alibaug to sell their land to him.
The ED has summoned Varsha Raut for questioning because a bulk of monies deposited into her account have been traced to Pravin Raut, who is a key accused in the Patra chawl redevelopment case.
The Sena spokesman’s remand application says, “When the investigation pertaining to several bank accounts were conducted in presence of Sanjay Raut it has been revealed that several amounts have been received in the account of Varsha Raut..” Raut gave evasive answers for the reason as to why these huge amounts were paid to his wife, the ED alleged. The ED is examining the KYC documents and statements of the respective bank accounts.
The ED was represented by special public prosecutors Hiten Venegaonkar and Kavita Patil.
Granting the agency custody until Monday, special judge MG Deshpande said that “remarkable progress” has been made in the investigations. The judge said the trail of payments of Rs 1.17 crore and 1.08 crore was not before the court when it had earlier restricted the remand of accused till Thursday.
“Considering the facts that some more amounts have been revealed and also the table filed along with bank statements by ED pointing out further trails, there is remarkable progress in the investigation. Contention of senior counsel for accused is not justified (opposing further remand) because investigation in PMLA cases is peculiar,” the court said.
The judge further said that the ED has to investigate the source of dirty money and how the same was inserted in the system. “Secondly ED has to investigate how the proceeds are separated from their criminal origin by moving them through a series of transactions making it harder to establish connection between them. Thirdly, there has to be a legitimate source of funds allowing them to retain and use and acquire goods amounting to integration. Certainly, facts of investigation demonstrate three stages, and they require further probe, by summoning witnesses and confronting accused,” the judge said.
Senior counsel Manoj Mohite representing Raut argued that there were no new allegations made against the Sena MP in the remand plea. He further submitted that the same questions were put up to Raut both during his custody and when he was summoned earlier. “At the moment there is no genuine need for custody demonstrated. Investigations can be carried out independently without him being custody. All his properties are disclosed to Parliament as he is an MP. He has also filed his income tax returns,” Mohite submitted.