Updated: October 18, 2021 2:29:10 pm
The Enforcement Directorate (ED) has issued fresh summons to Shiv Sena MP Bhavana Gawali to appear before it on October 20 for questioning in a money laundering case registered against her and others, official sources said on Monday.
The 48-year-old Gawali is a sitting Lok Sabha member from the Yavatmal-Washim constituency in Maharashtra. She was first summoned by the agency to appear on October 4 but she sought adjournment and a new date citing work commitments.
The Shiv Sena MP has now been asked to depose before the investigating officer of the case at the ED office located in South Mumbai on October 20, they said.
The agency in September had arrested her aide Saeed Khan in this criminal case filed under the provisions of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA).
The ED, while taking the custody of Khan, claimed before a special PMLA court that Gawali criminally conspired to convert a trust into a private company through Khan by “forgery and fraud” for layering of funds worth around Rs 18 crore. It is understood that the agency wants to question Gawali about her links with Khan and the trust identified as ‘Mahila Utkarsha Pratishthan’ and related transactions.
The ED had told the court that its investigation done so far suggested that misappropriation of funds to the tune of Rs 18.18 crore and theft of Rs 7 crore (cash) have been layered.
The agency said the trust filed for conversion into a Section 8 company by alleged fraudulent forgery of signatures of the management and documents from public institutions. The total assets of Rs 69 crore in the book value (of the trust) were transferred to the newly formed Section 8 company limited, the agency told the court. The Companies Act defines a Section 8 company as one whose objective is to promote fields of arts, commerce, science, research, education, sports, charity, social welfare, religion, environment protection, or other similar objectives.
The directors of this company, as per the ED, are Khan and Shalinitai Gawali, the mother of the Sena MP.
Bhavana Gawali along with the two is stated to be a member of this company.
“It is stated that Bhavana Gawali, through her aide Saeed Khan, Shergul Khan and his accomplices have criminally conspired to convert the Trust ‘Mahila Utkarsha Pratishthan’ into a Section 8 company through forgery and fraud for the purpose of layering the trust fund,” the ED had said. Initial probe shows that there is a huge cash deposit and the withdrawal of bigger amounts from the account of the trust maintained at the Risod Urban cooperative society. Then branch manager of Risod Urban cooperative society in his statement stated that the society was not entitled to receive a cash deposit of more than Rs 3 lakh.
However, there are multiple cash deposits of much bigger amounts followed by the withdrawal of the same amount on the same day. He (the manager) also stated that these transactions were merely book entries and no physical cash was moved. This was all done on specific instructions of Bhavana Gawali, the ED claimed.
Thus, it has come to light that the complaints alleging misappropriation of funds of Rs 18.18 crore and theft of Rs 7 crore (cash) are layered, the probe agency said.
The ED counsel had claimed that Khan played an active role in forging documents and creating companies.
Khan’s lawyer opposed the ED argument, and said, “Let them (ED) show if any money has come to my account…there is nothing against me ….I am targeted because I am affiliated to a state party.” The ED case is based on an FIR registered by Risod police station in Washim district for cheating and criminal breach of trust.
The agency had earlier conducted searches in this case at multiple premises in Yavatmal, Washim and Mumbai.
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