Properties of Shiv Sena leader seized by ED in money laundering case

The Enforcement Directorate (ED) on Friday seized several lands and properties belonging to Shiv Sena leader and former minister Arjun Khotkar in a money laundering case.

The properties were seized under the provisions of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) in a case relating to the illegal sale of a Co-operative Sugar Mill (Sahakari Sakhar Karkhana) in the Maharashtra State Co-operative case Bank (MSCB).

The ED had launched an investigation based on an FIR registered by the Economic Crimes Wing of the Mumbai Police. According to the FIR, the cooperative sweets were fraudulently sold by MSCB officials and directors at derisory prices to their relatives/private persons without following the procedure in force.

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The ED investigation revealed that Jalna SSK Ltd was established in 1984-85 on approximately 235 acres of land, of which 100 acres of land was received without any monetary consideration from the Maharashtra government.

The Jalna SSK failed to repay the loan taken from MSCB and was declared NPA in 2002. To recover its rights, MSCB took possession of the SSK in 2009 under the SARFAESI Act. Subsequently, MSCB held an auction with a reserve price of Rs 42.18 crore. Only two parties participated in the said auction. The sugar mill was valued at around Rs 70 crore at that time.

Tapadia Constructions Pvt Ltd of Aurangabad was the highest bidder. The investigation revealed that the buyers of the bidding documents and the final participants in the auction were related to each other and that Tapadia Constructions and the other bidder Ajeet Seeds Pvt Ltd operate from the same building at Jalna.

However, the company was not operating the SSK and after 15 months the sugar mills along with 235 acres of land located in Jalna were reportedly sold to Arjun Sugar Industries Pvt Ltd, a company formed by Arjun Khotkar and others.

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The ED investigation also revealed that Arjun Khotkar was on the board of Maharashtra State Co-op Bank during the period 1998-2004. He was the director of Jalna SSK during the period of 1997 to 2003. Moreover, he was the elected president of APMC, Jalna from 2007 till now.

Also, he served as a director of DCCB, Jalna for the period of 1997 to 2004 and 2017 to present. PMLA investigation revealed that around Rs 10.56 Crore paid by Tapadia Construction to MSCB as initial deposit instead of Jalna SSK was adjustment entity introduced by cash conversion through companies screens. It was only an agent entity that purchased Jalna SSK Ltd from MSCB as an agent for others.

The investigation also revealed that valuable SSK equipment such as boilers were sold showing as scrap metal by Arjun Sugar Industries. Further investigation into the matter is ongoing.

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