Sanjay Raut, a Shiv Sena MP, is called before ED and accused of conspiring

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Sanjay Raut, a Shiv Sena lawmaker and spokesperson, was called in on Tuesday by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) in connection with a case of alleged money laundering connected to a redevelopment project in the outskirts of Mumbai.

The call is being made at a time when Raut is attempting to unite Sena MLAs and supporters behind Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray in an effort to quell an internal rebellion being led by rebel leader Eknath Shinde, who has 39 of the party’s 55 MLAs on his side.

Raut referred to the ED’s action as a “plot” on Twitter, declared that he wouldn’t be able to get to the agency’s office on Tuesday, and dared the Central organisation to arrest him.

The case involves alleged irregularities in the redevelopment of Patra Chawl by Guru Ashish Construction Pvt Ltd, a division of Housing Development and Infrastructure Ltd (HDIL), which has been the target of investigation by law enforcement in relation to the fraud at PMC Bank that totaled Rs 4,300 crore.

Businessman Pravin Raut, a former director of Guru Ashish Construction and an accused assistant of the Sena leader, was detained by the ED in February. In the rehabilitation project case, the agency attached assets worth Rs 11.15 crore in April that belonged to Varsha Raut, the wife of Sena MP Sujit Patkar, Pravin Raut, and Swapna Patkar.

Sanjay Raut has been ordered to appear before them on Tuesday, according to top ED officials, yet the MP tweeted: “I just found out that the ED has summoned me. Good! Maharashtra has experienced significant political developments. We, the Shivsainiks of Balasaheb, are engaged in a fierce conflict. This is a plot to prevent me. I won’t go through Guwahati, even if you behead me. Detain me! Jeet Hind!

He was making reference to Shinde and the Sena MLAs who had taken refuge in Guwahati.

Later, Raut said he has no connection to any of the businesses being scanned by the ED. “I won’t be able to visit the ED office on Tuesday since I have to give a speech at a gathering that was already planned for Alibaug. It’s a court case. If the BJP has given you permission to arrest me, do so,” he commanded.

“I won’t be alarmed by such fabricated cases. I would rather go to Guwahati than be locked up. I am Balasaheb’s Shiv Sainik, the editor of “Saamana,” and I have been with him for 30 years (the Sena mouthpiece). From wherever I am, I will fight for the Shiv Sena, he declared.

In any case, Raut had brought up the ED matter on Sunday when speaking to Sena members in Dahisar. The MLAs from the Shinde camp rebelled because they felt pressure from the agency. Although my wife’s possessions have been attached and I am also being investigated by the ED, I am still standing with the Thackerays, he had remarked.

Siddharth Nagar, popularly known as Patra Chawl, is a neighbourhood in Goregaon. When the Maharashtra Housing and Area Development Authority (MHADA) began the rebuilding and restoration project in 2008 and awarded the contract to Guru Ashish Construction, there were a total of 672 homes distributed across 47 acres.

According to the ED, Guru Ashish Construction and MHADA entered into a tripartite arrangement to build flats for the Authority, sell the remaining land to private developers, and deliver flats to 672 tenants. The deal also included the renters’ society.

The ED asserts that instead of building the areas designated for the displaced residents and MHADA, Pravin Raut and other Guru Ashish Construction directors allegedly misled MHADA and sold the floor space index (FSI) to nine private developers, earning Rs 901.7 crore.

The ED claims that Guru Ashish Construction also started work on a project called Meadows and solicited deposits from prospective apartment purchasers totaling about Rs 138 crore. According to the ED, the company produced Rs 1,039.79 crore in criminal proceeds through these “illegal activities.”

According to the agency, Pravin Raut allegedly received Rs 100 crore from HDIL and “diverted” it to a number of accounts belonging to “close associates, family members, and his business companies,” including the Raut family.

The ED has also claimed that Varsha Raut received part of the Rs 83 lakh earnings in 2010, which she used to purchase a Dadar apartment. In addition, the ED claims that at least eight land parcels at Kihim Beach in Alibaug, Maharashtra, were purchased in the names of Varsha Raut and Swapna Patkar.

According to the original tripartite agreement, Guru Ashish Construction was also required to pay rent to each and every one of the 672 tenants each month until the project was finished. However, only the 2014–2015 rent was paid, and as a result, the renters filed a complaint with the developer.

Guru Ashish Construction received a termination notice from MHADA on January 12, 2018. The project was put on hold when the nine private developers who had purchased the FSI filed a lawsuit in the Bombay High Court in response to this notice.

Based on a complaint made by the Executive Engineer of MHADA, the ED opened an investigation under the terms of PMLA 2002 against Guru Ashish Construction, HDIL proprietors Rakesh Kumar Wadhwan and Sarang Kumar Wadhwan, and others.