IT searches at homes of sugar mill directors ‘close to Ajit Pawar’

A few of them are already under the scanner of the Enforcement Directorate (ED) in connection with a money laundering case into the Rs 25,000 crore fraud at Maharashtra State Co-operative (MSC) Bank.

The Income Tax (I-T) department is searching premises connected to directors of several sugar mills in Maharashtra including Jarandeshwar Sugar Mills, Pushpadanteshwar Sahakari Sakhar Karkhana Ltd, Daund Sugar Pvt Ltd and Ambalika Sugar Pvt Ltd, said sources. Some of these mills are managed by people who are supposedly close to deputy chief minister Ajit Pawar.

A few of them are already under the scanner of the Enforcement Directorate (ED) in connection with a money laundering case into the Rs 25,000 crore fraud at Maharashtra State Co-operative (MSC) Bank.

For instance, in July, the ED provisionally attached land, machinery and buildings of Jarandeshwar Sahkari Sugar Karkhana (Jarandeshwar SSK) at Satara, Maharashtra worth Rs 65.75 crore under the provisions of the Prevention of Money Laundering, 2002 (PMLA) in a case related to alleged fraud at MSC Bank.

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In September 2019, a month before the assembly polls in Maharashtra, the ED registered a money laundering case against NCP chief Sharad Pawar and his nephew Ajit Pawar, deputy CM of Maharashtra, in connection with an alleged Rs 25000-crore scam at the MSC Bank.

The ED probe has found that that MSCB sold Jarandeshwar SSK in 2010 through an auction at a price lower than fair value and without following any rules. At that time Ajit Pawar was on the board of the bank. The ED said Jarandeshwar SSK was purchased by Guru Commodity Services Pvt Ltd and was immediately leased to Jarandeshwar Sugar Mills Pvt Ltd, where Sparkling Soil Pvt Ltd, a company linked to Ajit Pawar and his wife Sunetra Ajit Pawar, is a majority shareholder.

The case pertaining to the alleged fraud at MSC Bank originates from a criminal PIL filed on January 28, 2019, before Bombay High Court. The PIL has alleged that the then top executives i.e. Chairman, MDs, Directors, CEOs, managerial staff of MSC Bank and office-bearers and directors of Sakhar Karkhanas, Soot Girnis and other processing units were given loans in a fraudulent manner by MSC Bank and, in the process, several illegalities were committed.

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