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Close Associate of Shiv Sena MLA Sent to Judicial Custody by Mumbai Court in a Money Laundering Case

Close Associate of Shiv Sena MLA Sent to Judicial Custody by Mumbai Court in a Money Laundering Case

Amit Chandole, a business associate of Shiv Sena MLA Pratap Sarnaik was sent to judicial custody till December 9 by a Mumbai court on Sunday. Chandole was arrested on Wednesday by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) in relation to a money laundering case pertaining to security services firm Topsgrup which is owned by Rahul Nanda.

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Following the completion of the three-day custody, ED officials brought him before the holiday court. While judicial custody was granted, the court did not grant ED a custody extension. The ED had said in its prior remand application that Topsgrup acquired a contract for providing security guards to the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) by colluding with Pratap Sarnaik via illegal methods using a “well-thought out strategy”.

The ED had also said that these illegal mechanisms were in place to obtain additional benefits by inflating the number of contracted security guards at the MMRDA’s cost. The agency also alleged that Sarnaik received illegal cash gratification for accommodating this scam. Sarnaik reportedly got up to 50% of profits earned out of the contract, while the money was transferred to the accounts of third party individuals in some cases.

With Chandole accepting the receipt of cash from Topsgrup for the MMRDA projects, part of the amount received by the company are the proceeds of a crime, the ED added. Meanwhile, the Shiv Sena leader and MLA has said the ED’s actions were vendetta politics against him. 

“The day I moved a privilege motion against (actor) Kangana Ranaut and (Republic TV editor-in-chief) Arnab Goswami, and spoke about reopening the Anvay Naik (suicide) case (in which Goswami is an accused), I knew what would happen. I am a Shiv Sainik and a fighter who has reached this far. (Chief minister) Uddhavsaheb Thackeray has made me the spokesperson to put forward the party’s views,” Sarnaik said last week.

“Today they [ED officers] told him [Vihang] your father speaks a lot on Ranaut and Goswami. I will continue to speak wherever Mumbai, Maharashtra or its police are maligned. I have done nothing wrong in my business,” he added. He further said that the ED raided his properties and also questioned his son during the process.

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Rahul Nanda has also defended Sarnaik previously saying “Pratap is a very old friend and has not invested a single penny in my business or company ever. He or Sena have nothing to do with Tops(grup). This is absolutely absurd.”

On November 25, Sarnaik had sought a week’s time to participate in the ED’s investigations as he was quarantining himself after a Goa visit. The ED’s money laundering probe started after a first information report or FIR was registered at Mumbai’s Yellow Gate Police Station on October 28. 

This was done on the directives of the 16th Metropolitan Magistrate Court against Nanda and members of his family. This case was recently transferred to the Economic Offences Wing (EOW) of the Mumbai Police for further investigation.   

This came as Ramesh Iyer, the former chairman of Topsgrup filed a complaint against Nanda and others for allegedly diverting company funds to other accounts in India and abroad. He also alleged that the funds were utilized by Nanda and his associates for their personal enrichment which included purchasing property. It was said that the firm was defrauded by ₹175 crores as a consequence of this.

Former director of Topsgrup, Amar Panghal and Iyer said in their statements to the ED that Topsgrup signed a contract with the MMRDA in 2014 for the deployment of 350 to 500 security guards on a monthly basis. Although only 70% if the guards were actually sent by Topsgrup, the MMRDA was billed for all guards. Further, the MMRDA was reportedly made to handle the salaries and provident fund of the security guards.

ReadSarnaik Asks For A Week's Time To Appear Before ED, Says 'In Quarantine

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