Congress leader Baba Siddique appeared before the Enforcement Directorate (ED) today in connection with a money laundering case related to alleged irregularities in a Rs 400 crore slum rehabilitation project in Bandra. The former Maharashtra minister was summoned by the investigating officer (IO) for recording his statement in the case under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA), officials said. The central probe agency had conducted raids on May 31 at about seven locations here, including Siddique’s premises, a real estate firm and a builder connected to him.
Based on a local police FIR, ED recently registered a criminal case under PMLA against Siddique and about dozen others. Bandra police had registered a FIR in 2014, on directions of a local court, to probe financial irregularities in the slum rehabilitation project in which Siddique is alleged to have been involved. Siddique was chairman of the Mumbai board of the Maharashtra Housing and Area Development Authority (MHADA) between 2000-2004. In 2012, a complainant had approached a local court stating that the flats allotted in the residential buildings constructed after demolishing a slum in suburban Bandra were granted on the basis of alleged fake documents. There were other irregularities as well, he claimed.
The agency also suspects use of certain ‘fronts’ or ‘benami’ companies in committing the alleged irregularities and hence raids are being conducted to gather more evidence, officials said. Siddique had denied allegations made against him in this case in the past. He has been a three-time Congress legislator, minister of state for food and civil supplies (during 2004-08) in the Maharashtra government and also served as a municipal corporator. Known for his links with Bollywood celebrities, he also made news when he reportedly got Salman Khan and Shah Rukh Khan into a much talked about patch-up hug in 2013 after years of apparently frosty relations.