The Enforcement Directorate (ED) on Thursday questioned Shiv Sena MLA Partap Sarnaik and his son Vihang in connection with a Rs 175-crore money laundering case against the legislator and security service firm Topsgrup Services and Solutions Limited.
Sarnaik and his son reached the ED office at Ballard Estate in south Mumbai around 11.30 am and were questioned for over five hours. On Wednesday, the Supreme Court had directed the ED to not take any coercive action against Sarnaik or his son in the case.
Sarnaik on Thursday said that it is his responsibility as a legislator to answer ED’s questions. “The ED asked me some questions related to my profession, politics and others. I have said clearly that ED is a big organisation tracking corruption and black money stashed abroad. It was set up to teach a lesson to such people and hence, I believe it is my responsibility to answer its questions as a people’s representative.”
“I have answered all questions. I don’t know if it is satisfied with the answers or not but all ED officers asked me questions in a playful environment. The questions were about my family, profession and politics and every question was answered,” he added.
The ED case is based on an FIR, filed by a former employee of Topsgrup, Ramesh Iyer, who has alleged that the company cheated the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) of Rs 175 crore. This MMRDA contract, the ED has alleged, was facilitated by Sarnaik for which he reportedly received kickbacks of Rs 7 crore from Topsgrup.
The ED, sources said, questioned Sarnaik on the alleged kickbacks received from Topsgrup through his aide Amit Chandole, and a couple of offshore accounts allegedly owned by the legislator.
The agency also questioned Sarnaik on accommodation entries of about Rs 5 crore in one of his firms. Sources said evidence collected by ED reveals that Sarnaik’s firm allegedly used to give cash to accommodation entry providers and get a cheque in return for a commission.
Chandole, a director at Sarnaik’s firm Vihang Advertising, was arrested by ED last month.
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