Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut was summoned by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) on Tuesday for questioning in a money laundering probe linked to the re-development of a Mumbai ‘chawl’ and other related financial transactions involving his wife and friends.
The Rajya Sabha MP, who has been asked to depose before the Enforcement Directorate at its office in south Mumbai and record his statement under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA), termed the summons a conspiracy and said, “Arrest me”.
Development comes as the Shiv Sena battles rebellion from a group of its MLAs, putting a question mark on the future of Maharashtra’s Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government. Rebel Shiv Sena legislators, who were first taken to Surat, are now camping in Guwahati.
“I just came to know that the ED has summoned me. Good! There are big political developments in Maharashtra. We, Balasaheb’s Shivsainiks, are fighting a big battle. This is a conspiracy to stop me. Even if you behead me, I won’t take the Guwahati route. “Arrest me! Jai Hind! ” a defiant Raut said on Twitter.
News18 takes a look at the Patra Chawl case:
What is the project all about?
Siddharth Nagar, popularly known as Patra Chawl, is located in the northern Mumbai suburb of Goregaon with a total of 672 houses spread over an area of 47 acres.
The Maharashtra Housing and Area Development Authority (MHADA) took up the redevelopment project in 2008 and gave the contract to Guru Ashish Construction Private Limited (GACPL) to rehabilitate the houses.
GACPL, the tenants’ society and MHADA signed a tripartite agreement for the redevelopment of Patra Chawl but that has only been on paper. For the past 14 years, residents have been waiting to get their houses.
What has the ED claimed?
According to the agency, Pravin Raut, a close associate of Sanjay Raut, and other directors of Guru Ashish Constructions misled MHADA, and sold the floor space index (FSI) to nine private developers, collecting Rs 901.79 crore, without constructing either the rehab portion for the 672 displaced tenants, or the MHADA portion, the Indian Express reported.
The agency has claimed that Pravin Raut received Rs 100 crore from real estate company HDIL, and “diverted” it to various accounts of “his close associates, family member, his business entities”, including the family of Sanjay Raut.
The ED has alleged that in 2010, Rs 83 lakh, which was part of the proceeds of crime, was transferred to Sanjay Raut’s wife Varsha Raut, who used the money to buy a flat in Dadar.
This realty company also launched a project called Meadows and took the booking of amount of around Rs 138 crore from flat buyers. “The total proceeds of the crime generated by directors of Guru Ashish Constructions Pvt. Ltd l. through illegal activities was about Rs 1,039.79 crore. Part of the crime process was further transferred to close associates, ”it alleged. The ED probe, conducted so far, found that “around Rs 100 crore were transferred from HDIL to the account of Pravin Raut”.
Apart from this, at least eight plots of land were purchased at Kihim beach at Alibaug in Maharashtra in the name of Varsha Raut and Swapna Patkar, the ED has alleged.
What is the status of the project now?
In 2020, the Maharashtra government appointed a one-member committee led by retired chief secretary of Maharashtra Johnny Joseph to study and recommend solutions for the rehabilitation and rental payment to 672 tenants.
Following this, the state cabinet, in June 2021, approved the redevelopment of the Patra Chawl again, and the government resolution was issued in July 2021. On February 22 this year the stalled construction work was restarted on the orders of Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray.
Action so far
In April, the ED provisionally attached assets worth more than Rs 11.15 crore of Raut’s wife Varsha Raut and two of his associates as part of this investigation. The attached properties are in the form of land held by Pravin M Raut, Sanjay Raut’s aide and a former director of Guru Ashish Construction Pvt Ltd, at Palghar, Saphale (town in Palghar) and Padgha (in Thane district).
The attached properties also include a flat in Mumbai’s suburb Dadar held by Varsha Raut and eight plots at Kihim beach in Alibaug jointly held by Varsha Raut and Swapna Patkar, wife of Sujit Patkar, the ED said in a statement.
Pravin Raut was arrested by the ED in February as part of money laundering probe linked to a Rs 1,034 crore alleged land scam related to the re-development of the Patra ‘chawl’ in Mumbai’s Goregaon area. He is in judicial custody at present.
Guru Ashish is a subsidiary company of the Housing Development Infrastructure Ltd. (HDIL). HDIL is under investigation by the ED and a few other agencies in connection with the about Rs 4,300 crore alleged fraud at the Punjab and Maharashtra Cooperative (PMC) Bank.
The agency had questioned Varsha Raut last year in connection with the PMC Bank case and her purported links with Pravin Raut’s wife. Probe found that Varsha Sanjay Raut and Madhuri Pravin Raut “are partners in Avani Construction and Varsha Raut has received Rs 12 lakh from this entity (as overdrawn capital converted to loan) on a contribution of mere Rs 5,625”.