The Enforcement Directorate (ED) arrested Anil Deshmukh, the former Maharashtra Home Minister Anil Deshmukh after questioning him for over 12 hours at its office, in connection with a money laundering and corruption case against him. Deshmukh reached the ED office here around 12 pm and was kept at the ED office till over 12 am. At around 1.30 am, official sources told The Indian Express that Deshmukh, 71, was arrested under the provisions of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA).
NCP spokesperson Nawab Malik said Deshmukh’s arrest is politically motivated and aimed at maligning the image of the state’s Maha Vikas Aghadi government leaders.
Hitting out at the Centre, Malik, a minister in the Maharashtra government, said scaring leaders by abusing power should be stopped.
“The entire action (of arresting Deshmukh) is politically motivated. It is aimed at scaring the leaders of the Maha Vikas Aghadi (Shiv Sena-NCP-Congress alliance),” Malik told reporters.
Earlier in the day, a team of ED offcials including its additional director flew in from Delhi to record the statement of Deshmukh.
Deshmukh had earlier skipped at least five summons by the agency and also moved the Bombay High Court seeking to quash these summons.
Ahead of appearing before the ED, Deshmukh in a video message said that he has extended his cooperation in the probe. “I have received ED summons and the media has wrongly reported that I am not cooperating with the investigation. After every summon, I informed the ED that my petition is pending before the courts and that I will produce myself before the ED after their outcomes. My staff and my family have always cooperated with the ED during the searches. I have also recorded my statements with the CBI. Today I am appearing before the ED,” he said.
“On account of a witch-hunt campaign launched at the instance of certain vested inimical interests, some blatantly false allegations have been levelled by those persons who have absolutely no credibility, honour or pride. These unscrupulous persons are themselves knee-deep involved in several rackets of extortion and even murder. The principal person who held the high office of commissioner of police is now a wanted absconding criminal,” said Deshmukh.
On October 29, the HC refused to quash the ED summons against Deshmukh and directed him to appear before the agency. The court allowed Deshmukh’s lawyer to remain present at a visible distance but beyond audible range during the ED questioning.
The ED has alleged that Deshmukh, while acting as the home minister, “received illegal gratification of approximately Rs 4.7 crore in cash from various orchestra bar owners” through Waze.
According to the ED, out of this about Rs 4.18 crore was then deposited in cash with four Delhi-based shell companies– Reliable Finance Corporation Pvt. Ltd, VA Realcon Pvt. Ltd., Utsav Securities Pvt. Ltd. and Sital Leasing and finance Pvt. ltd. These firms subsequently donated the entire money to Shri Sai Shikshan Sansthan Trust, a charitable trust headed by Anil Deshmukh and his family.
The ED probe into Deshmukh’s financial transactions is in line with the CBI probe into former Mumbai Police commissioner Param Bir Singh’s allegations of corruption against the NCP leader. The CBI initiated a preliminary probe based on the April 5 HC order and registered FIR on April 21. Deshmukh has denied the allegations