MUMBAI: The sessions court on Tuesday remanded NCP leader Sameer Bhujbal in the Enforcement Directorate’s custody till February 8 in a money laundering case as the agency wanted to grill him on the money he had allegedly siphoned off. The ED submitted that it had recovered Rs 163 crore out of the Rs 800 crore allegedly pocketed by Sameer through bogus companies.
The ED had arrested Sameer on Monday night after grilling him for over nine hours under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA). The agency officials also quizzed Chhagan Bhujbal’s son Pankaj, a legislator, in the case of alleged kickbacks in construction of the state guest house Maharashtra Sadan in Delhi.
Meanwhile, NCP chief Sharad Pawar accused the BJP government of ‘misusing’ power to target his party leaders. “I have seen other governments... but, in a democracy, I have not seen such a blatant misuse of power in the last 40 years,” he told reporters. According to the ED, shares of two companies held by the Bhujbals, Parvesh Constructions and Armstrong Energy, were sold to dubious companies at a high premium of Rs 9,900 per share as against the share value of Rs 100 each besides channeling funds to the tune of Rs 75 crore and Rs 50 crore respectively using this method. The ED claimed that a market operator Sunil Jajodia had arranged funds in the bank accounts of Parvesh Constructions and Armstrong Energy. Jajodia told the ED in a statement that he used to receive cash from Bhujbal’s office at Mumbai Education Trust which he kept transferring to his Kolkata-based contacts by using ‘hawala’ services.
The agency doubted whether Sameer, his cousin Pankaj and former deputy Chief Minister Chhagan Bhujbal had indeed purchased a coal mine and set up a power company in Indonesia.
The money trail shows that the Bhujbals had transferred huge money from the accounts of the coal and power company to their real estate firms, Hexaworld and Armstrong.