THE ENFORCEMENT Directorate (ED) is likely to confront Shiv Sena MP Bhawana Gawali with her aide Saeed Khan, who was arrested by the agency earlier this week, in connection with alleged money laundering at a public trust.
The ED on Friday sought further custody of Khan, stating that he had given evasive answers while in custody and needs to be confronted with ‘persons likely to be accused persons’ who have been summoned on Monday. The agency has summoned Gawali on Monday.
The ED claimed that while an FIR was filed last year by Gawali as a chairperson of public trust Mahila Utkarsha Pratishthan, alleging misappropriation of funds to the tune of Rs 7 crore by one of its trustees, it was a garb by the accused to save themselves. It was claimed that the alleged misappropriation of funds had taken place in July 2019, and there was no explanation as to why the FIR was filed only in July 2020 by Gawali.
The ED alleged that the public trust was converted into a company under the Companies Act and Gawali, her mother Shalinitai and Khan were named as directors in it for their benefit. The ED claimed that when questioned about these aspects, Khan had feigned ignorance and said that Gawali will be the right person to answer these.
“He (Khan) is avoiding the questions, diverting on these issues. Only when he is confronted with the others can the facts of the case be unearthed,” special public prosecutor Sunil Gonsalves told the court.
Khan’s lawyer Inderpal Singh told the court that the ED was sheltering those who were named as the accused in the scheduled offence registered by the Maharashtra police. Singh argued that while Gawali was the complainant in the case against 12 persons, including the trustees of the public trust who allegedly misappropriated funds, the ED has remained silent on the allegations against them. He claimed that the investigators were “acting to the tune of the Centre”. Singh added that ED did not have the right to go beyond the scheduled offence registered by the police.
Special Judge M G Deshpande said that opportunity should be given for the ED to conduct further probe and granted ED Khan’s custody till October 5.