Former Maharashtra home minister Anil Deshmukh was arrested by the Enforcement Directorate after he was questioned for over 12 hours in a money laundering case. He will be produced before the court on Tuesday where the ED will seek his custodial remand.
Sources have told India Today that Anil Deshmukh, who appeared before the investigators after skipping multiple summons, was placed under arrest as he was “non-cooperative” during questioning.
Before placing him under arrest, the financial probe agency recorded the statement of the 71-year-old politician during which he was confronted with alleged evidence gathered by the agency, including statements of other accused and witnesses in the case.
The ED is carrying out an investigation under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) in connection with the alleged Rs 100 crore extortion racket.
Former Mumbai Police Commissioner Param Bir Singh had accused Anil Deshmukh of asking dismissed assistant inspector Sachin Vaze to collect Rs 100 crore from hotels and bars in Mumbai every month, a charge which the then state home minister had consistently denied.
The entire controversy took place after an explosive laden vehicle was discovered on February 25 this year outside the residence of industrialist Mukesh Ambani’s residence in Mumbai. During the investigation, the NIA (National Investigation Agency) found the involvement of Sachin Vaze and later the Maharashtra Government removed Parambir Singh from the post of Mumbai Police Commissioner.
After Parambir Singh’s allegations, the Bombay High Court directed the Central Bureau of Investigation to investigate the case. Anil Deshmukh resigned from the post of Maharashtra Home Minister.
The ED during its investigation allegedly found that as head of the Crime Intelligence Unit of Mumbai Police, Sachin Vaze collected Rs 4.70 crore from orchestra bars of Mumbai between December 2020 and February 2021, which was later handed over to Anil Deshmukh through his assistant.
The ED, according to documents accessed by India Today, also came to know about Nagpur-based charitable trust Shri Sai Shikshan Sanstha being run by Anil Deshmukh’s family. The financial probe agency claims that the trust recently received Rs 4.18 crore as donations from Delhi-based shell companies.
“Cash from Nagpur was transferred through Hawala to Delhi and Hrishikesh Deshmukh was looking after these arrangements. It is apparent that Anil Deshmukh, by virtue of his earlier position as home minister of Maharashtra, has received Rs 4.70 crore from the orchestra bars owners and managers for the smooth functioning of bars. The bribe money was apparently used by him through his son Hrishikesh Deshmukh for providing cash to Delhi-based paper companies. And after layering, the same was routed to Shri Sai Shikshan Sansthan Trust in the form of donation, a trust of Anil Deshmukh and his family members,” added the ED document.
Earlier, Deshmukh, in an open letter, said that false allegations were being made against him that he was not cooperating with central agencies.
“A false narrative and an erroneous impression is being created by vested interests that I am evading or avoiding appearing before the Enforcement Directorate. Undoubtedly, such propaganda is absolutely baseless,” Anil Deshmukh said.
Deshmukh had skipped at least four summons issued by the ED in the case. However, the Bombay High Court last week refused to quash these summons.
Calling it a “witch-hunt campaign” launched at the instance of certain “vested inimical interests”, Deshmukh said, “These unscrupulous persons are themselves knee-deep involved in several rackets of extortion, fraud and even murder. The principal person who held the high office of Commissioner of Police is now a wanted absconding criminal.”