The special PMLA (Prevention of Money Laundering Act 2002) court on Thursday directed the Enforcement Directorate (ED) to respond to the bail plea filed by Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut, claiming that his arrest was a political vendetta after change of power in the state. The probe agency has got time till September 16 to file its reply.
The ED arrested Raut on July 31 in connection with the alleged financial irregularities in the redevelopment of Patra Chawl (old row tenement) in Goregaon. It alleged that Pravin Raut was his front man from whom the tainted money was transferred to him.
Raut has claimed that the amount received by Pravin was not tainted money and since no tainted money was involved in the entire transaction, he could not be prosecuted on money-laundering charges. “If the money received by Pravin is not tainted money, then no predicate offence is made out against Raut and then even a single day of the custody of the present applicant will be illegal and unwarranted.”
The bail plea said, “The Economic Offences Wing of the Mumbai police had conducted a forensic audit of the accounts of the company connected to the Patra Chawl redevelopment project. It concluded that Pravin had not signed any agreements with the nine developers to whom the free sale component of the project was allegedly sold and no money was deposited in the bank accounts of Pravin out of the amount allegedly misappropriated from the project.”
The MP also alleged that the ED had booked Pravin in two cases – first was registered in 2019 connected to the PMC Bank fraud and the second is Patra Chawl redevelopment project. “It is stated that in the PMC Bank matter, the agency has claimed that ₹112 crore was received by Pravin as proceeds of crime derived from the bank fraud and in the same case, property of Pravin has also been attached. On the other hand, the agency in the present case claims that the ₹112 crore was received by Pravin as proceeds of crime from the sale of FSI in the Patra Chawl project.”
“The ED cannot be allowed to show the same amount as proceeds of crime in two different cases and take action against different people,” the bail application said.
About the allegation that Raut had received ₹1.06 crore, the bail plea claimed the money was accounted for. Bifurcating the funds, Raut is alleged to have received ₹55 lakh from Pravin’s wife. Raut called this a loan taken from her. He claimed that the loan was even mentioned in his affidavit filed for Rajya Sabha nomination. The loan had already been repaid from valid sources, he said.
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