ED arrests Sanjay Raut in a money laundering case

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Enforcement Directorate Sunday arrested Shiv Sena leader and MP Sanjay Raut in an alleged money-laundering case. Earlier in the day agency had carried out searches before summoning him to the agency’s South Mumbai office in the evening for questioning.

Sources said a team of about a dozen officers reached his residence around 7.30 am. Subsequently he was summoned to the agency’s Ballard Pier office. He was placed under arrests at midnight after failing to cooperate during the probe, sources said.

Before being taken to the ED office, Raut said he was being “framed”. Earlier in the day, he had tweeted: “False action, false evidence. I will die, but will not surrender. I will never leave Shiv Sena. I swear by Balasaheb Thackeray that I am not involved in any scam. He taught us to fight and I will continue to fight for Shiv Sena.”

The ED action follows two summonses issued by it against Raut, the latest being on July 27. Raut and his wife, Varsha, are being probed in connection with its probe into the money-laundering case against jailed

promoters Rakesh and Sarang Wadhawan. ED has allegedly tracked certain transactions linked to Raut’s wife.

People in the know claimed probe had revealed that Varsha received 83 lakh, directly or indirectly, in 2010 from the wife of Pravin Raut — one of the accused in the HDIL case. This amount was allegedly used by Sanjay Raut to purchase a flat at Dadar in Mumbai. The amount, ED claimed, was part of proceeds of crime linked to irregularities in a slum redevelopment project undertaken by an HDIL subsidiary.

ED has claimed that after it initiated investigation, Sanjay Raut transferred 55 lakh to Pravin Raut’s wife. ED has attached the Dadar flat and 8 land parcels in Alibaug on Mumbai outskirts.

When searches and questioning were on, Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray told cadres at his Matoshree residence: “BJP was trying to finish off the Shiv Sena. There are high chances of Raut being arrested by ED. They are doing a shameless conspiracy to divert attention from the comments of (governor Bhagat Singh) Koshyari.” NCP and Congress echoed his comments, saying Raut was being victimised to divert attention from Koshyari’s comments.

BJP’s Kirit Somaiya, who has been raising the Patra Chawl issue, alleged Raut was part of a “mafia” and claimed that Raut was involved in the 2,000 crore Patra chawl scam. Chief minister Eknath Shinde said: “He (Raut) has said that he has done nothing wrong. If you haven’t done anything wrong, then you should not be afraid. Let the investigation happen.”

In his column in Sena mouthpiece ‘Saamana’, Raut said: “The rebel group should stop saying that they switched sides because Shiv Sena gave up Hindutva. Why malign Hindutva unnecessarily? Show honesty in saying that all ran away to protect themselves from Enforcement Directorate.”