LUCKNOW: In a major crackdown, the Enforcement Directorate (ED) arrested a 2008-batch IRS officer, working as an additional commissioner of customs and GST, in connection with a money laundering investigation against him linked to alleged possession of disproportionate assets.
According to an ED statement on Wednesday, Sachin Balasaheb Sawant, who earlier worked with the ED at its Mumbai zonal office as a deputy director, was taken into custody under the provisions of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) on Tuesday evening following raids at his premises in Mumbai and some other locations.
On Wednesday, the officer was produced in a special PMLA court which sent him to ED custody till July 5, said the statement.
Sawant, an Indian Revenue Service (IRS) officer of the customs and indirect taxes cadre, has been currently posted in the Customs and GST Directorate, Lucknow. He was associated with the ED between 2017 and 2019.
The action against Sawant came after the CBI lodged an FIR against him on charges of possession of disproportionate assets in 2022. As per the ED statement, Sawant had amassed assets disproportionate to his known and legal sources of income and the probe found that cash deposits of around Rs 1.25 crore were made from unexplained sources in the personal bank accounts of family members and in the bank account of a dummy company where his father and brother-in-law were directors. Moreover, Sawant was the real owner of a flat that was also purchased in the name of the dummy company.
As per the FIR of the CBI’s anti-corruption bureau (ACB) unit in Mumbai, Sawant, from January 2011 to 2020, had enriched himself illegally and amassed assets in his name and that of his family members (wife, father and mother) and also incurred huge expenditure, which is disproportionate to the tune of 204 per cent of their known and legal source of income, amounting to Rs 2.45 crore.
Sources in the department said that Sawant's father had retired as an Assistant SI, Mumbai in 2009. Sawant's wife Hema has shown her source of income from tuition and salary. It has also been learnt that Sandeep Sawant (brother of Sachin Sawant) is currently posted as a low-ranked official in the Maharashtra police.
Sources say that most of the amount arranged for the purchase of the flat in Navi Mumbai had been routed through different loan, personal and current accounts of Sawant's parents and brother. It has been learnt that about Rs 1.02 crore of Rs 1.3 crores (cost of the flat) was arranged in cash. Further, the flat purchased at Sanpada is in the name of M/s Seven Hills Constrowell Ltd of which Balasaheb Sawant is one of the directors. It has been learnt that the company is based in a chawl with one small room having the name plate of Alka B Sawant but nothing besides that.
Similarly, although the flat at Sanpada is in the name of M/s Seven Hills Constrowell Ltd, Sawant and his wife have been occupying it as its real owners.
The mobile phone and gas connection are in the name of Sachin Sawant and carry the address of the Sanpada flat. The bank account of Sawant and his wife at SBI, Sanpada also has the address of the same flat. It has also been learnt that Sawant has been paying the society maintenance charges and electricity bills for the flat.