ED Summons Maha Minister Parab for Questioning in Money Laundering Case

The ED has summoned Maharashtra Transport Minister Anil Parab for questioning in Mumbai on June 15 in a money-laundering probe linked to the alleged violation of coastal regulation zone provisions in the construction of a resort in the Dapoli beach area of ​​Ratnagiri district, officials said Tuesday. . The federal agency wants to question and record Parab’s statement under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA), they said. He has been asked to depose before the probe agency at its zonal office in Mumbai.

The ED had raided his premises and of those allegedly linked to him in May in connection with the case. This came after the Enforcement Directorate registered a fresh case under PMLA against him and others. Parab (57), is a three-time Shiv Sena legislator in the Maharashtra Legislative Council and is also the state parliamentary affairs minister.

His role is already being probed by the ED in another money laundering case booked against former Maharashtra home minister and NCP leader Anil Deshmukh. After the raids on May 26, the ED had questioned Parab and recorded his preliminary statement as part of the case filed after taking cognisance of a recent Union Environment Ministry show-cause notice that termed the Dapoli resort “illegal” and in alleged violation of the Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) norms.

Dapoli, about 230 km from Mumbai, is a scenic coastal hill station. Because of its round-the-year cool weather and salubrious surroundings, it has earned the moniker Maharashtra’s ‘mini Mahabaleshwar’. Many real estate projects, comprising villas, row houses and flats are coming up in the area.

Parab is also facing some other charges of alleged irregularities and corruption. The first set of charges pertains to allegations of purchasing a parcel of land in Dapoli in 2017 for a consideration of Rs 1 crore and it was registered in 2019.

It is alleged that the land was subsequently sold to a Mumbai-based cable operator Sadanand Kadam in 2020 for a consideration of Rs 1.10 crore. In between, a resort was built on the land from 2017 to 2020. The Income Tax Department had made these allegations after it conducted raids in March against some people allegedly close to Parab, like Kadam and deputy regional transport officer Bajrang Kharmate.

The CBDT had in March stated that construction of the resort started in 2017 and over Rs 6 crore was spent in cash for it. “It transpires that relevant facts about the construction of the resort were not intimated to the registration authorities and accordingly, the stamp duty was paid only for the registration of the land on both occasions ie in 2019 and 2020,” it said.

The cost of construction of the same has not been accounted for either by the person searched (Kadam) or the politician (Parab) in their books of account, the Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) had said. The environment ministry notice reportedly stated that the building and the road of the Dapoli resort fall within 200 meters of the high-tide zone, which qualifies as a no-development zone under CRZ-III.

Parab has categorically denied his association with this resort. Another case in which Parab has been under ED radar and was also questioned by the agency at its office in Mumbai in September last year pertains to the PMLA case linked to former home minister Deshmukh. Former police officer Sachin Waze, arrested by the NIA in a case of recovery of an explosives-laden SUV near industrialist Mukesh Ambani’s house in Mumbai, had levelled certain allegations against Parab.

Waze had alleged in a letter, which he sought to submit before a court, that in January 2021, Parab asked him to carry out an inquiry against “fraudulent” contractors listed in the Mumbai civic body and “collect” at least Rs 2 crore from about 50 such contractors. Parab had then rejected Waze’s claims and said he was ready to face any probe into the allegations.

Waze, in his statement to the ED, had claimed that Parab received crores of rupees as a bribe from Kharmate for the transfer of some police officers in Mumbai in 2020. The Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government in the state is led by Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray. It was formed in 2019 after Thackeray’s party Shiv Sena, the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and Congress joined hands to run the state.

These parties have alleged that central probe agencies, including the ED, have been targeting politicians and families from their parties at the behest of the BJP-led government at the Center. BJP leaders have said that the agencies were doing their job independently and acting only based on evidence.

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