Sanjay Raut, a Shiv Sena lawmaker, is in the custody of the Enforcement Directorate (ED) until August 4. Raut was taken into custody late last night in connection with a land scam involving slum redevelopment and money laundering.
The ED had asked for his eight-day detention because they said Raut was tampering with evidence and influencing many significant witnesses in the money laundering case he is under investigation for.
On Monday, the investigation agency informed the special PMLA court in Mumbai that Praveen Raut served as Sanjay Raut’s front man. It claimed Praveen Raut made Rs 112 Crore, of which the ED has so far been able to link the editor of “Saamana” and his family to Rs 1.06 Crore. In the money laundering case for which he is being investigated, the ED said Raut tampered with the evidence and manipulated a number of significant witnesses.
The court ruled that a lengthy custody order was unnecessary because it is possible to follow the money route to his wife using bank statements.
The Rajya Sabha MP was transported to the government-run JJ Hospital for a checkup before being brought before the court. He had been detained early on Monday after spending hours being interrogated at the ED’s Mumbai office.
According to ED prosecutor Hiten Venegaokar, Praveen Raut, who also paid for the Sena leader and his family to take multiple international trips, gave the MP Rs 2 lakh every month. The ED added that the 1.06 crore that was tracked was utilised to purchase 10 pieces of land in Kihim, Alibaug. “Sixty per cent of the amount has been paid in cash already. The ED has already taken statement of owners from whom land is purchased,” Venegaokar added.
Defense attorney Ashok Mundargi claims that the allegations are speculative and that his client was detained as part of a political vendetta. He noted that in this scenario, little custody might be awarded.
Regarding the ED’s claim of non-cooperation, Mundargi claimed the MP was mired in the state’s ongoing political turmoil and the role he had to play as a key member of his party. “This cannot be taken as non-cooperation,” he said.
Following his detention in the case, Raut had spent the night in the ED’s Ballard Estate office in south Mumbai. Around 12.30 p.m., the editor of “Saamana,” wearing a saffron scarf, was spotted waving to reporters gathered outside the agency’s headquarters as he was being brought to the hospital.
Following a nine-hour search of Raut’s home during which Rs 11.5 lakh in cash was found, the ED detained him after six hours of questioning.
He was detained at 12:05am on Monday in accordance with the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) because, according to the authorities, he was refusing to assist with the investigation.
Raut has asserted his innocence and suggested a political vendetta in the matter. Uddhav Thackeray supporter Raut, who drove himself to the ED’s office, declared he would resist pressure and stick with the Shiv Sena.
Following an uprising by Eknath Shinde, who later replaced Thackeray as chief minister of Maharashtra with Devendra Fadnavis of the BJP serving as his deputy, the ED ramped up its investigation.