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Monday, July 23, 2018

ED to quiz Sameer Bhujbal on use of funds his family firms received

The ED has alleged that the books of accounts of some of these firms reflect unexplained transactions which, the agency suspects, are nothing but “kickbacks received by the Bhujbals”.

Written by Khushboo Narayan | Mumbai | Published: February 4, 2016 1:50:13 am

The enforcement Directorate (ED) will quiz Sameer Bhujbal, the arrested ex-MP and nephew of former Maharashtra deputy chief minister Chhagan Bhujbal, on the utilisation of funds received by firms his family controlled, said ED officials.

The ED has alleged that the books of accounts of some of these firms reflect unexplained transactions which, the agency suspects, are nothing but “kickbacks received by the Bhujbals”.

Chhagan Bhujbal, his son Pankaj and Sameer are being probed by the ED and the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) for alleged irregularities in the award of a contract of over Rs 100 crore for three projects in 2006, when the NCP leader was deputy CM and PWD minister.

The ED is also planning to bring Sameer and other accused in the case face-to-face for questioning, said sources.

According to sources in the agency, the ED chief, Karnal Singh, and two special directors will be in Mumbai on Thursday to take stock of the investigation against Bhujbals, among other things. Sameer was arrested on February 1 under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) and has been remanded in ED custody by a Mumbai court till February 8.

“This is one of the rare instances when the ED has been granted full seven-day custody of an accused. We will take Sameer Bhujbal to hospital

for check-ups every 48 hours. We don’t want to take any chance,” said an ED official.

A day after his arrest, Sameer had complained of health problems and was taken to a hospital before he being produced before a sessions court in Mumbai. Another ED official said Sameer may be sent to judicial custody before the ED’s custody ends on February 8. This, if the agency is satisfied with his interrogation.

“If we conclude the interrogation in the next four days, we will hand him (Sameer Bhujbal) to the court for judicial custody,” said the official.

Earlier on February 2, the ED in its remand copy submitted in the court said that Sameer has “played a crucial role in laundering huge amounts of money and not coming out with true facts” in a scam where the state exchequer has lost Rs 870 crore.

“It is alleged that the Bhujbals accepted cash in lieu of projects to contractors, channelled such illegal cash into various companies and integrated them into business activities of the group companies,” the remand copy said.

On June 17, 2015, the ED filed a case under the PMLA against Chhagan Bhujbal and his kin for money laundering. This was after the ACB searched 26 properties of Chhagan Bhujbal as part of its investigations into alleged irregularities in the award of a contracts when Bhujbal was deputy CM and PWD minister.

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