Suspended Mumbai police officer Sachin Waze has told the Enforcement Directorate (ED) that he “collected” Rs 4.70 crore in cash from the city’s bar owners and “handed it over” to the personal assistant of former Maharashtra Home Minister Anil Deshmukh, the central probe agency said today.
The agency also claimed that Waze, the former head of Crime Intelligence Unit (CIU) of Mumbai police, informed the bar owners and managers that this money “will go to No. 1 and crime branch and social service branch of Mumbai Police”.
Waze further told the agency that “he was getting direct instructions from Anil Deshmukh, the then home minister, in a number of police investigations”.
The ED made these allegations in its remand application field before a special Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) court in Mumbai while the seeking custody of Anil Deshmukh’s aides, personal secretary Sanjeev Palande (51) and personal assistant Kundan Shinde (45) who were arrested by the agency earlier today.
They have to sent to ED’s custody till July 1.
The former cop recorded his statement with the ED saying he was “called for a meeting at the official residence of Maharashtra home minister wherein he was given a list of bar and restaurant owners”.
In the meeting, Waze said, he was asked “to collect Rs 3 lakh per month from each bar and restaurant.”
“Waze has also stated that he had collected approximately Rs 4.70 crore from various bar owners between the months of December, 2020 to February, 2021 and handed over the same to Kundan Sambhaji Shinde, the personal assistant of Anil Deshmukh on the instruction of the then home minister in two installments in the month of January and February, 2021,” the ED alleged.
The agency said it questioned and recorded the statement of Waze twice at Navi Mumbai’s Taloja Jail where he currently is in connection with a case of alleged parking of an explosives laden SUV near industrialist Mukesh Ambani’s residence in Mumbai.
This Rs 4.70 crore was collected from various orchestra bar owners and managers for “smooth functioning of their bars after restricted hours without the restrictions of performance artist” and interference by the police, the ED said.
The ED said Waze’s statement was “further confirmed” by two police officers who were also questioned by it.
“They categorically mentioned that they were told by Waze about the collection of money from various bar owners and both were called by Palande, the personal secretary of Anil Deshmukh who inquired about number of bars and collections from the various bars,” the ED claimed.
The agency claimed that a part of this alleged cash bribe money was sent through hawala to four “paper” or shell companies located in Delhi that later “diverted” about Rs 4.18 crore funds “in garb of donations” to a Nagpur-based charitable trust whose chairman is Anil Deshmukh.
The ED said during the scrutiny of bank statements of the charitable trust identified as Shri Sai Shikshan Sanstha “a number of cheque entries in the recent past amounting to Rs 4.18 crore” were received by it from four Delhi-based shell companies.
The owners of these alleged fake companies told ED that they were contacted by a Nagpur based person seeking transfer/adjustment of funds in garb of donation to the said charitable trust.
“Money was received in form of cash from said (Nagpur based) person on instruction of Deshmukh family and same was channelised through web of various companies to the said trust in garb of loans/donations.”
“A total of about Rs 4.18 crore were thus diverted to the said trust in garb of loans or donations,” the ED said, quoting the statements of the promoters Surendra Kumar Jain and Virendra Jain.
It is apparent, the ED said, that Anil Deshmukh “by virtue of his earlier position as home minister of Maharashtra government has received amounts to the tune of Rs 4.70 crore from the orchestra bars owners and managers for smooth functioning of bars and the said bribe money was apparently used by him through his son Hrishikesh Deshmukh for providing cash to Delhi based paper companies and after layering the same routed to the charitable trust in the form of donation,” the agency alleged.
It said Shinde was “instrumental in collecting cash from Waze on behalf of Anil Deshmukh.”
Describing the role of Palande, the ED alleged, he was “instrumental in passing instructions of Anil Deshmukh with regard to transfer, postings and collection of monies from orchestra bar owners and further analysing and assessing the work of collection of tainted monies through police officials and assisted Anil Deshmukh in money laundering.”
It said both the aides of Anil Deshmukh have emerged as “important cogs in the wheels” of this case and they have also “received money in cash”.
The ED told the court that as an allegation of collection of about Rs 100 crore have been made in this case the entire money trail requires to be established in order to bring the guilty to the book.
“The involvement of foreign angle may not be ruled out at this stage,” it said.
The ED case against Anil Deshmukh and others was made after the Central Bureau of Investigation first carried out a preliminary inquiry followed by a regular case being filed on the orders of the Bombay High Court.
The court had asked the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to look into the allegations of bribery of Rs 100 made against Anil Deshmukh by former Mumbai Police Commissioner Param Bir Singh.
With inputs from NDTV