MUMBAI: The Enforcement Directorate (ED) officials began questioning former Union Minister Praful Patel on Friday in connection with a money-laundering probe linked to the alleged illegal assets of late Iqbal Memon aka Iqbal Mirchi, a close aide of underworld don Dawood Ibrahim.
Patel reached the ED office at the Ballard Peer area of South Mumbai at around 10.30 am and investigating officials began questioning him around 11 am, sources have said.
Patel is the fourth NCP leader to face the ED charges over the past few years.
Former Maharashtra Deputy Chief Ministers Chhagan Bhujbal and Ajit Pawar were the first ones to face the ED grilling over charges of corruption in Delhi’s Maharashtra Sadan scam and Irrigation scam.
While Bhujbal spent over two years in jail, inquiry against Ajit Pawar is in pipeline.
NCP chief Sharad Pawar’s name too appeared in an ED inquiry recently after which he had offered to appear before the ED officials leading to a day-long political drama last month.
Patel had already faced ED grilling in another money laundering case linked to the aviation scam.
The ED is expected to record Patel’s statement under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) in connection with a deal between the wife of Memon and a real estate company promoted by Patel.
According to ED officials, Patel’s Millennium Developers Pvt Ltd constructed a building called Ceejay House in 2006-07 and its third and fourth floors were transferred to Iqbal’s wife, Hajra Memon.
The land on which the tower was made is said to be owned by Memon. Investigators claim the land was purchased from the proceeds of money laundering, drugs trafficking and alleged crimes of extortion.
Patel and his party have denied any wrongdoing in the deal and said that the property papers explain that the transaction is “clean and transparent”.
At a recent press conference, he rubbished reports about his alleged deal as "mere speculation".
“Documents may have been leaked to media. Obviously, you are in possession of some papers, which may have never been brought to my attention,” Patel had said.