EVEN AS former Deputy Chief Minister Chhagan Bhujbal Chhagan Bhujbal complained of ‘chest pain’ on Tuesday night and a team of doctors attached with the JJ Hospital were brought in at the ED office in Ballard Pier, sources in the Enforcement Directorate said the NCP leader had allegedly laundered over Rs 200 crore.
“Bhujbal was examined by a cardiologist and chest physician. His examination reveals that there has been changes in his ECG readings as compared to his last reading. His chest is clear. We have advised that he should undergo a detail check up at JJ hospital on Thursday,” Dr TP Lahane, Dean, JJ Hospital said.
The ED, which is probing alleged kickbacks received by Bhujbal and his kin in lieu of extending favours to contractors in construction of the Maharashtra Sadan in New Delhi and the Kalina Central Library in Mumbai, had arrested the NCP leader on March 14 in the case had case that has allegedly cost the state exchequer a loss of Rs 887 crore.
“While the scam is pegged at Rs 880 crores, this figure has been reached by calculating the properties acquired by the bribe money as per current market rates. The financial trail shows that Bhujbal made around Rs 225 crore in the two contracts awarded when he held the portfolio of PWD minister. While the Chhagan Bhujbal was instrumental in getting the contractors pay him a hefty sum for helping them bag the contractors, his nephew Sameer, who is currently in judicial custody, was responsible for channelising the bribe amounts,” said a senior official from the agency. On February 1, the ED arrested Sameer in the case and he is currently lodged at Mumbai’s Arthur Road jail.
While Bhujbal’s two-day remand ends on Thursday, the agency plans to seek an extension in a bid to have a face-to-face confrontation between the uncle-nephew duo.
The agency, meanwhile, spent the whole of Wednesday, confronting the NCP leader with various former employees of the Mumbai Education Trust (MET), who have been shown as directors in over dozen of dubious firms which were ‘controlled’ by the Bhujbals, where the alleged laundered money was transferred. Bhujbal is the chairman of the trust.
The ED had claimed that the MET’s Bandra office was the den where the proceeds of the crime were brought in and later laundered through front companies which was later used by the Bhujbals for investing in real estate. The agency has enlisted at least 12 employees of the trust who were shown as directors in various fictitious firms floated by the Bhujbals. Amongst those confronted with Bhujbal was Amit Biraj, who worked as an assistant to the trustee but was shown as the director of Devisha Infrastructure, one of the many shell companies.
“We brought Bhujbal and Biraj face to face to talk about the cash that was allegedly delivered at the MET office. While Biraj maintained that he saw huge amount of cash stashed at MET’s ninth floor office as well as people delivering cash in leather bags, Bhujbal continued to deny allegations claiming that Biraj was a disgruntled employee and is ‘being used’ to cook up a story against him,” a senior official told The Indian Express.
“Whenever we quizzed Bhujbal on anything pertaining to the contracts, he would say that the decision was taken by the State Cabinet Sub Committee and had the blessings of the then Chief Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh. He also asked us to go through the video recordings of the ‘bhoomi poojan’ event of the Andheri RTO wherein the then CM is heard praising Bhujbal for getting the RTO building constructed. His defence is that he had profited the state exchequer by Rs 110 crore as the contractors built two buildings ( Maharashtra Sadana and Andheri RTO) in lieu of the contract awarded to them and the decision was taken by the then State government and not him,” added the official.