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ED Files Money Laundering Case against NCP's Sharad Pawar, Nephew Ajit Pawar in Maharashtra Bank Scam

The Mumbai Police last month had registered an FIR against Ajit Pawar and other functionaries in the case on the directions of the Bombay High Court.


Updated:September 24, 2019, 9:21 PM IST
ED Files Money Laundering Case against NCP's Sharad Pawar, Nephew Ajit Pawar in Maharashtra Bank Scam
File photo of NCP chief Sharad Pawar. (Reuters)

New Delhi: The Enforcement Directorate (ED) on Tuesday registered a case of money laundering against Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief Sharad Pawar, his nephew and former deputy chief minister Ajit Pawar, and others in a criminal case in connection with the Rs 25000-crore scam pertaining to the Maharashtra State Cooperative Bank (MSCB).

Officials said an Enforcement Case Information Report (ECIR), the equivalent of a police FIR, has been registered by the central agency under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) against all the accused.

The case is based on a Mumbai Police FIR that had named the then directors of the bank, former deputy chief minister of the state Ajit Pawar, and 70 former functionaries of the cooperative bank. Sharad Pawar, a former chief minister of Maharashtra, has been named in the ED FIR on the basis of the police FIR, they said.

The registration of the case comes ahead of the October 21 Assembly polls in Maharashtra.

It is understood that the accused will soon be summoned by the agency to record their statements.

Diliprao Deshmukh, Isharlal Jain, Jayant Patil, Shivaji Rao, Anand Rao Adsul, Rajendra Shingane and Madan Patil are among the accused in the ED case.

The Mumbai Police last month had registered an FIR against Ajit Pawar and other functionaries in the MSCB scam case on the directions of the Bombay High Court.

Other accused include Peasants and Workers Party (PWP) leader Jayant Patil and officials from the superseded bank's units in 34 districts in the state, an official said.

The accused were allegedly complicit in causing losses to the tune of Rs 1,000 crore to MSCB between 2007 and 2011.

It is alleged that there were irregularities in loan disbursements to cooperative sugar factories, and that loans were sanctioned despite them having weak financials. In many cases, loans were sanctioned without any collateral. The cooperative sugar factories were allegedly sold to close relatives of certain politicians.

An inspection by the National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD) as well as a charge sheet filed by a quasi-judicial inquiry commission under the Maharashtra Cooperative Societies (MCS) Act had earlier blamed the “decisions, actions and inactions” of Pawar and the other accused for the loss.

The NABARD audit report revealed breach of several banking laws and RBI guidelines by the accused in distribution of loans to sugar factories and spinning mills, and subsequent default on repayment and recovery of such loans.

Local activist Surinder Arora filed a complaint with the EOW in 2015 and approached the high court, seeking that an FIR be registered.

In view of the deficiencies pointed out by NABARD, the RBI had in May 2011 directed to supersede the MSCB board of directors and appoint an administrator to look after its affairs.

'Will continue with poll campaign'

Sharad Pawar refused to comment on the case being filed and allegations of money laundering against him. He said he had no knowledge about if the case was filed by the state government or by the ED.

"I am not even a member of that organisation, yet there is my name in the FIR," he said. "These type of FIRs during election time will surely impact the results. I have full faith in the judiciary, this is not a new case."

Pawar said the notice was issued because of the positive support he has been getting from the state's people. "We welcome this move by the government," he added.

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