Corroborating the allegation by former Mumbai Police Commissioner Param Bir Singh, a probe by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) has established the money trail of Rs 4 crore, which 10 bar owners in Mumbai allegedly paid to former Maharashtra Home Minister Anil Deshmukh for three months, sources said.
The ED is conducting searches at four locations, including the residence of Deshmukh in Nagpur, in connection with the new findings in the money laundering case registered against the NCP leader. In Mumbai, the probe agency is searching the premises of Deshmukh’s personal assistant Kundan Shinde and personal secretary Sanjeev Palande, based on the evidence gathered by ED on the alleged cash payments by the bar owners to Deshmukh. Later in the day, the ED brought both Shinde and Palande to its office at Ballard Estate in Mumbai for questioning in the Deshmukh case.
The anti-money laundering agency has recorded the statements of over 10 bar owners in connection with the case.
The ED probe into the financial transactions of Deshmukh is in line with the CBI probe into allegations that the former minister had asked police officers, including the now-suspended assistant police inspector (API) Sachin Waze, to illegally collect Rs 100 crore including Rs 40-50 each month from 1,750 bars and restaurants in Mumbai.
Deshmukh has denied the allegations which were made on 20 March by former Mumbai police commissioner Param Bir Singh in an eight-page letter to Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray, sent out after he was shunted out from his position as the Mumbai police chief.
The ED registered a case against Deshmukh for allegedly obtaining illegal gratification, based on an FIR filed by the CBI in April. The CBI said Deshmukh used his official position to obtain certain undue advantage and had also influenced the transfers and postings in the Mumbai Police, as alleged by Singh.
Waze is being probed by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) for his alleged role in the Ambani house bomb scare case and the murder of businessman Mansukh Hiran.
Waze had earlier submitted a letter to the NIA court supporting the allegations made by Singh against Deshmukh and levelled corruption charges against Transport Minister Anil Parab of the Shiv Sena. Waze alleged that Deshmukh had asked him to pay Rs 2 crore for his reinstatement in the Mumbai Police. The court, however, has not taken the letter on record. After a decade-and-a-half of being suspended in a case of custodial death, Waze had rejoined the police force in 2020.
Earlier on 25 April, the ED had searched the Nagpur residence of Sagar Bhatewar, a close aide of Deshmukh, who is a director on several firms controlled by the family of Deshmukh.