The Enforcement Directorate (ED) on Monday told a special PMLA court in Mumbai that former director of Guru Ashish Construction Pvt Ltd Pravin Raut was the frontman of Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut in the Patra Chawl scam.
Sanjay Raut is currently in the custody of the ED in a money laundering case related to irregularities in a chawl re-development project in Mumbai’s Goregaon area.
The ED on Monday produced Shiv Sena MP before a special sessions court after his arrest here early this morning in connection with Patra chawl money laundering case.
Hearing the matter, the Court sent Raut to ED custody till August 4. The central agency had sought 8-day custody of the Shiv Sena MP. ED’s counsel Hiten Venegaonkar argued that Pravin Raut, former director of Guru Ashish Construction Pvt Ltd did not invest a single penny. He received Rs 112 crore.
ED said the investigation revealed that Rs 1.6 crore was transferred to the account of Sanjay Raut and wife Varsha Raut. The probe agency argued that Raut and family were beneficiaries of Rs 1.6 crore.
ED further told the court that the investigation revealed that out of Rs 1.6 crore, a plot of land at Kihim Beach in Alibaug was bought. One plot was taken in the name of Swapna Patkar. The probe also revealed that Pravin Raut has been the frontman of Sanjay Raut. The agency said witness Swapna Patkar and sellers have confirmed about cash transactions in the land deal.
“The investigation also revealed that Pravin Raut is a close confidante and associate of Sanjay Raut. Being the frontman of Sanjay Raut, he utilised his proximity with Sanjay Raut for obtaining approval from MAHADA and other advantages best known to themselves. Being a very influential person and given his proximity to Sanjay Raut, Praveen Raut has received PoC of around 112 crores and there is every likelihood that Sanjay Raut has received more PoC during that period,” ED told the court.
ED’s lawyer said Sanjay Raut was summoned four times but he appeared before the agency only once. During this period, Raut tried to tamper with the evidence and key witnesses, said ED’s lawyer seeking 8-day custody of the Shiv Sena leader.
On the other hand, Sanjay Raut’s lawyer, Advocate Ashok Mundargi argued that Raut’s arrest is politically motivated. Advocate Mundargi said Raut is a patient with a heart-related ailment. He had also undergone surgery. Papers related to this have been presented before the court.
After the Court’s ruling, Sanjay Raut’s brother Sunil Raut told reporters, “Sanjay Raut was arrested late night yesterday. His medical checkup was done today and he was taken to court. We have faith in the judiciary, we believe he will be released soon.” Sunil Raut had earlier said that the Shiv Sena leader has been framed since the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) at the Centre is afraid of him.
“BJP is afraid of him and got him arrested. They have not given us any documents (regarding his arrest). He has been framed,” said Sanjay Raut’s brother.
Earlier on Monday, Raut was taken for a medical test at the JJ hospital before being produced at the court. ED officials raided the Shiv Sena leader’s home on Sunday, and after detaining and questioning him for several hours, arrested him in the early hours today. Raut is a close aide of former Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray.
Meanwhile, another FIR was registered against Sanjay Raut in Mumbai for allegedly threatening Swapna Patkar, the wife of Sujit Patkar, believed to be a close aide of the Shiv Sena MP. The case was registered at the Vakola police station under sections 504, 506 and 509 of IPC.
An audio clip had gone viral in which Raut was allegedly heard threatening Swapna Patkar. Notably, Swapna Patkar is a witness in the Patra Chawl land case in connection to which the ED detained Raut on Sunday.
According to sources, ED officials seized Rs 11.50 lakh unaccounted cash from the residence of Raut earlier on Sunday. ED sleuths reached Raut’s residence around 7 am on Sunday and conducted the raid.
Soon after the ED officials detained him in connection with the Patra Chawl land scam case, the Shiv Sena leader said that “Jhukega nahi” (will not be cowed down)”.
Speaking to media persons on Sunday, Raut said, “False charges and documents are being framed against people. All of this is being done to weaken Shiv Sena and Maharashtra. Sanjay Raut will not be cowed down. I will not leave the party.”
On June 28 this year, Raut was summoned by ED in connection with the prevention of the money laundering case pertaining to the Rs 1,034 crore Patra Chawl land scam. Refusing to join the probe and citing the Monsoon Session of Parliament as a reason for not joining the probe, he then dared the probe agency to arrest him.
Later, he reached the ED office. In April this year, the ED had provisionally attached assets worth over Rs 11.15 crore belonging to Raut’s wife Varsha Raut and two of his associates as part of its investigation.