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I followed Vilasrao’s direction, Bhujbal says; ED gets remand

A local court on Tuesday remanded the senior NCP leader and former Maharashtra PWD Minister Chhagan Bhujbal in the custody of Enforcement Directorate till March 17, a day after he was arrested in a money laundering case in connection with the Maharashtra Sadan scam.

Bhujbal, who broke down in the court at one point while speaking, said he was innocent. “I have cooperated (with ED). I have been in social service for the past fifty years. When some questions were put to me (by ED), I honestly said I did not know but still I was arrested,” he said.

He said he did not grant the contract in question (Maharashtra Sadan guesthouse in Delhi) and only followed the directions of the then Chief Minister (the late) Vilasrao Deshmukh to attend meetings (related to the project), he added.

“CM Vilasrao Deshmukh told me to hold meetings and I followed that. I did not grant contract,” he said.

Some disgruntled employees of the Mumbai Education Trust (MET), a trust run by him, cooked up the allegations, he claimed.

The ED said in the remand application that contractor of Maharashtra Sadan project, KS Chamankar Enterprises, paid Rs 6.03 crore to Origin Infrastructure, a firm controlled by Bhujbals.

Prime builders to whom Chamankar sub-contracted the Maharashtra Sadan project, also “paid Rs 18.5 crore through their associates against dubious real estate deals”, it said. “In view of evidence and money trail available so far.. there are reasons to believe that Bhujbal is guilty of the offence of money laundering,” it said. 

Bhujbal’s lawyers said as he had appeared before ED whenever summoned, so his arrest was unnecessary. But the court granted the remand plea.
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