Former Maharashtra deputy chief minister Chhagan Bhujbal was arrested on Monday evening by Enforcement Directorate (ED) in a money laundering case connecting with the Maharashtra Sadan scam.
The arrest comes after the agency questioned Mr. Bhujbal for over 10 hours. The ED is probing alleged kickbacks received by Bhujbal and his kin for favouring contractors in construction of the Maharashtra Sadan in New Delhi and the Kalina Central Library, works which were awarded when he was state PWD minister — he held the portfolio from November 2004 to September 2014. He started his political career with the Shiv Sena, joined the Congress and later the NCP of Sharad Pawar.
The Enforcement Directorate alleges that the Bhujbals received kickbacks for awarding various government contracts, including the Maharashtra Sadan in Delhi, to the tune of Rs. 870 crore. Part of this money, the ED claims, was parked abroad and also routed into India through various shell companies located across the country.
Following Bhujbal’s arrest, an ED officer said: “When we quizzed him on the contracts awarded by him during his tenure as PWD minister, he claimed that the decision was taken by the Cabinet sub-committee. He was non-committal on the sources of cash. Since his answers were unsatisfactory, we arrested him.”
The ED’s probe follows a Bombay high court ruling in January when it sought progress reports from the Maharashtra Anti-Corruption Bureau and the ED within four weeks on their investigations against the Bhujbals.