The Enforcement Directorate has opposed a clean chit given by Mumbai Police to Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar and others in connection with an alleged scam involving the Maharashtra State Cooperative (MSC) Bank. The case becomes a political hot potato in the state last year, with Ajit Pawar named by the agency (and quitting as MLA) right before the October Assembly elections.
The central agency has asked the Mumbai court not to accept the clean chit submitted by the police – whose FIR names Ajit Pawar – and has filed an intervention application. If the police’s closure report is accepted, the agency’s money laundering case against the NCP leader also falls.
Last year, when the Enforcement Directorate booked Sharad Pawar, he announced a visit to its Mumbai office even though he had not been summoned.
The proposed visit – seen by many as a gauntlet was thrown down to the central government – would have been made just before he went on the campaign trail for state polls and was designed to ensure the agency could not summon him in the middle of his campaigning.
The veteran politician eventually dropped that plan at the request of both the agency and the Mumbai Police Commissioner. Mr. Pawar, who said he had nothing to hide, made the agency’s case a rallying point for his party.
Sharad Pawar and others were booked in a money laundering case in connection with the alleged MSC Bank scam that was valued at Rs 25,000 crore. The case was being investigated by the Economic Offences Wing of the Mumbai Police, which had filed a closure report earlier.
The money laundering probe initiated by the Enforcement Directorate was based on the police’s FIR which had led to a furor last year.