A special team of the Anti Corruption Bureau (ACB) from Mumbai reached ‘Bhujbal Farms’ in Nashik to take stock of properties of former Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister and NCP leader Chhagan Bhujbal, who is at present in judicial custody in a money laundering case.
“We have gone there to take stock of his properties,” said an ACB official after the team arrived at the farm, situated on the Mumbai-Agra National Highway.
The ACB had in February this year chargesheeted 17 people, including Bhujbal, in connection with the Maharashtra Sadan case. It had filed a 20,000-page charge sheet consisting of statements of over 60 witnesses.
According to the anti-graft agency, the case was entirely based on documentary evidence, such as fund transfer and bank transactions.
In the construction of the state guest house in Delhi, contractors had “earned 80 per cent profit”, while, as per the government norms, they were entitled to “only 20 per cent gain”, ACB officials have alleged.
They have said that the books of accounts were “fudged” to show that the profit earned was only one per cent.
According to ACB officials, the original cost estimate for Maharashtra Sadan was Rs. 13.5 crore, but later it was increased to Rs. 50 crore.
The ACB had in June last year registered two FIRs against Chhagan Bhujbal. The first one was related to alleged irregularities in allotment of a prime plot at Kalina in Mumbai to a developer.
The second case was in connection with alleged rampant corruption and large-scale irregularities in the construction of the new Maharashtra Sadan, the state government’s guest house in Delhi.
Bhujbal and his nephew Sameer are at present lodged in Arthur Road jail in Mumbai after the Enforcement Directorate (ED) arrested them early this year in a money laundering case.
Bhujbal’s son and NCP legislator Pankaj, also an accused in the case, had recently been granted interim protection from arrest by the Bombay High Court in the same case.
According to ED, the Bhujbal family had allegedly conspired along with several others to divert or ‘launder’ kickbacks received by Chhagan Bhujbal, when he was state Public Works Department minister.
The PWD under Bhujbal had then allegedly awarded sub-contracts to firms, in blatant violation of rules, in the Maharashtra Sadan case.
On August 11, initiating fresh action in the money laundering case against Chhagan Bhujbal and family members facing charges, ED had attached close to two dozen assets, estimated to be worth Rs. 90 crore.