The Enforcement Directorate (ED) on Tuesday interrogated Pankaj Bhujbal, the son of former Maharashtra deputy chief minister and NCP leader Chhagan Bhujbal in connection with a case filed against the Bhujbal family under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA).
“I am cooperating with the ED investigation. I will make myself available for questioning as whenever required by the agency,” said Pankaj Bhujbal at the end of the interrogation.
On Tuesday morning, Pankaj Bhujbal, an elected legislator, came to the ED office in Ballard Estate at 11 am. He was grilled for nine hours by a team of ED officials over alleged unexplained transactions in the books of accounts of some of the firms controlled by the Bhujbals. The agency has said it suspects these transactions are “kickbacks received” by the Bhujbal family. Chhagan Bhujbal, his son Pankaj and nephew Sameer Bhujbal are being probed by the ED and the Maharashtra Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) for alleged irregularities in awarding a contract of over Rs 100 crore for three projects in 2006 when Bhujbal was deputy CM and PWD minister.
Earlier, the ED had impounded Pankaj Bhujbal’s passport in connection with the money laundering case to ensure he does not stall ongoing investigation.
The agency had on February 1 arrested Sameer Bhujbal, nephew of Chhagan Bhujbal, in the same case. The ED has said that Sameer Bhujbal had floated several companies to channel and launder at least Rs 870 crore.
“Several companies were floated by the accused with his employees as directors which were utilised for layering of funds through a maze of transactions and such laundered funds were then channelled into the business activities of these companies. The economic rationale of forming multitude of such companies appears to be for channelling and laundering the proceeds generated out of criminal activity,” the agency said in its remand plea submitted before a Mumbai court, which has sent Sameer Bhujbal to judicial custody till February 22.
The ED is investigating nine charges against the Bhujbals.
Some of them include allegations pertaining to the redevelopment of MIG colony in Bandra and alleged kickbacks to Parvesh Constructions, a company where Pankaj and Sameer Bhujbal are directors; allegations of corruption in awarding several contracts such as for State Central Library at the Kalina campus of Mumbai University, Mumbai-Nashik toll road and bridges, among others.
The ED is also probing a transfer of Rs 30 crore from the account of Armstrong Energy Pvt Ltd to two of its wholly-owned companies Armstrong Global and Armstrong Infrastructure in Singapore. Pankaj and Sameer are directors of Armstrong Energy Pvt Ltd.