Money laundering crackdown: The Enforcement Directorate (ED), on Tuesday, rolled out a fresh order attaching assets worth Rs 20.41 crore in connection with the money laundering probe against former Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister and NCP leader Chhagan Bhujbal. ED, in a statement, informed that it has issued an order for provisional attachment of assets under sections of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA). With this fresh order, the total attachment of properties in the case stands at Rs 178 crore now, it said. Bhujbal was arrested on March 14, 2016, for alleged involvement in scams pertaining to Maharashtra Sadan in New Delhi and at Kalina, Mumbai. Bhujbal is currently lodged in Arthur Road Jail in Mumbai in connection with an alleged money laundering case.
Bhujbal’s son and NCP legislator Pankaj and his nephew Sameer are also accused in this case. According to the ED, the Bhujbal family allegedly had conspired along with several others to divert or ‘launder’ kickbacks received by Chhagan Bhujbal, when he was state Public Works Department minister. In February 2016, the ACB had lodged a 20,000-plus-page charge sheet against 17 people, including the Bhujbals, in the cases and named more than 60 witnesses, besides providing documentary evidence and details of fund transfers and bank transactions. It further alleged that the contractors earned 80 per cent profits while the official circular permitted the gain (profits) to be only 20 per cent.
Following a complaint filed by former Aam Aadmi Party leader and anti-corruption activist Anjali Damania, the ACB registered two FIRs against Chhagan Bhujbal, Pankaj, Sameer and 14 others in June 2015.
Bhujbal started his political career with the Shiv Sena party. He left the party in 1991 and joined the Indian National Congress. Later, after the Indian National Congress leader Sharad Pawar decided to split from the Congress and form his own party, the Nationalist Congress Party, Bhujbal went along with him. Bhujbal became the fourth Deputy Chief Minister of Maharashtra and remained in office till December 2003.