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Saturday, October 16, 2021

Sachin Waze among 14 accused named in ED chargesheet on ‘bribe money-laundering’

Anil Deshmukh not named, ED says he is yet to appear for questioning

Written by Sadaf Modak | Mumbai |
Updated: September 17, 2021 5:07:33 am
The ED complaint states that Waze, arrested in the Ambani terror scare case, had collected Rs 4.7 crore as bribe from bars and other establishments from December 2020 to February 2021 on the directions of Deshmukh. (File Photo)

Dismissed Mumbai police assistant inspector Sachin Waze has been named as an accused by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) in its prosecution complaint filed in connection with alleged money laundering of bribe collected from bars, restaurants and other establishments in Mumbai.

The ED has not named former state home minister Anil Deshmukh so far, stating that it has been difficult to probe the case as despite multiple summons he had not appeared before the agency for questioning.

It has named 14 accused in all, including Waze, a trust and other companies linked to Deshmukh and his family and two of his staffers, Kundan Shinde and Sanjeev Palande, who were arrested in June.

The ED complaint states that Waze, arrested in the Ambani terror scare case, had collected Rs 4.7 crore as bribe from bars and other establishments from December 2020 to February 2021 on the directions of Deshmukh. The ED claimed that bar and restaurant owners were being harassed and pressured to pay money for their smooth functioning “in difficult times of Covid-19 pandemic when the government had put time and occupancy restrictions”. The agency claimed that Deshmukh and Waze “were together involved in the whole racket of extortion of collection of Rs 100 crore a month” from various establishments.

“Shri Anil Deshmukh used to call and instruct Sachin Waze time to time regarding handing over the money collected from various orchestra bar owners/managers to Kundan Shinde. On first instance, in the month of January 2021, Waze met Kundan Shinde outside Sahyadri Guest House where Shinde came in a white Mercedes car of the Home Minister and handed over 5 bags carrying collected money approx Rs 1.60 crore in denomination of Rs 500 which Kundan Shinde kept in the white Mercedes car of the Minister,” the ED chargesheet states, based on Waze’s statement. It adds that in February, Waze again met Shinde and handed over 11 bags carrying Rs 3 crore.

Shinde has denied this in his statement to the ED, claiming that he had not met Waze during this time and that he was not allowed to use the white Mercedes car belonging to the Deshmukh family.

The ED also questioned Waze on a statement given by a bar owner. The bar owner had claimed that Waze had told them that the money collected from them will go to “No 1”, crime branch and social service branch of the Mumbai Police. When asked to clarify who Waze was referred to, he told the ED, “I state that No. 1 as referred to is Shri Anil Deshmukh.”

Waze also reiterated what he had said in a letter he had tried submitting to the court in April.

He claimed that former Mumbai police commissioner Param Bir Singh informed him on June 12 last year that NCP chief Sharad Pawar had called him to his bungalow and asked about the grounds of reinstating Waze. Waze said in his statement that Singh told him that Pawar wanted him to be placed under suspension again. He claimed that the next day, Deshmukh called him and told him that he would convince Pawar not to suspend him and also sought Rs 2 crore from him. Waze said that he had expressed his inability to pay the money and was told by the minister that he could pay him in due course of time.

On June 16, Deshmukh called to meet him at the state guest house and told him that he has convinced Pawar and that the two could work together —”acche acche kaam karenge”, the ED chargesheet states. Waze is also quoted to have told the ED that Singh did not have knowledge that he was following instructions given by Deshmukh to collect money. Waze told the ED that the proof regarding this could be taken from chats retrieved from his phone by the NIA.

Waze, who was suspended in 2004 for his alleged role in the custodial death of Ghatkopar blast accused Khwaja Yunus, was reinstated last year by a committee headed by Singh.

The ED claims that Deshmukh also had a role to play in his reinstatement.

Waze claimed that he had not received any personal benefit from the alleged dealings. “I had compulsion and political pressure to save my job after getting reinstated in the police force, which resulted in doing these dealing on the instructions of Shri Anil Deshmukh,” Waze has told the ED. The agency claims that Waze’s motive was “to take undue benefits in other cases”. “As per accused Waze, Anil Deshmukh had played a crucial role in his reinstatement and therefore he was indebted literally and figuratively to him,” the ED has said.

It claims that the money collected was laundered through a complex web of companies. Apart from naming some of the companies as accused, the ED has said that in all there are 27 companies directly and indirectly linked to Deshmukh and his family or associates. It alleges that Deshmukh’s son, Hrishikesh, who was also summoned for questioning multiple times, had transferred cash through hawala to two accused who infused the cash into banking channels, layering them in shell companies and a trust, Shri Sai Shikshan Sanstha.

The ED has included the statements of dummy directors of such companies. The agency has claimed that analysis of bank statements shows that the transactions were done without any rationale only for rotation of funds to layer proceeds of crime.

The ED has named Waze, Palande, Shinde, brothers Surendra Jain and Virendra Jain, who are named as owners of some of the companies, trust Sai Shikshan Sanstha, and alleged shell companies Reliable Finance Corporation Pvt Ltd, VA Realcon Pvt Ltd, Utsav Securities Pvt Ltd, SITAL Leasing and Finance Pvt Ltd, Kishore Diwani, Premium Port Link, along with chartered accountants Vinod Hassani and Vishal Khatwani. It has also said that it needs more time to inspect the role of other suspects including family members of Deshmukh.

The ED has also included the statement of accused Palande, where he is quoted to have said that Shiv Sena leader Anil Parab had an “unofficial list” of police officers who were to be posted at specific locations. The list would then be handed over to Deshmukh, who then placed it before the Police Establishment Board (PEB), the body set up to decide on police transfers as per Supreme Court guidelines.

According to the chargesheet, Palande said, “Parab used to handle the references with regard to transfer and postings of police officers of the rank ACP & above for Shiv Sena since May, 2020.” He added that the list would then be forwarded to Deshmukh. He said the list was “unofficial” and “there would be no record maintained in the Home Minister’s office”.

He added that as per his knowledge, “There are no such guidelines laid down by the state government for preparing and forwarding any such list. The forwarding of the said list to the PEB would be solely on the directions of Anil Deshmukh.”

In addition, the chargesheet contains allegations against Parab in two other matters which had also found mention in the allegations made by Waze in a letter in April. Waze claimed that Rs 40 crore was taken from police officials by Deshmukh and Parab for favourable transfers, but when asked for evidence, he said he had learnt it from others in the department and had not named anyone.

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