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Scam slur on Bhujbal

Mumbai, Feb. 1: Maharashtra minister Chhagan Bhujbal is linked to the mining scam that former Jharkhand chief minister Madhu Koda and an associate are accused of masterminding, BJP leader Kirit Somaiya alleged today.

“We all know the scam involving (Pune stud farm owner) Hasan Ali.... a whopping Rs 93,000-crore moneylaundering scandal. This is another big scandal, as high as Rs 25,000 crore,” said Somaiya.

The BJP national secretary alleged the NCP leader and his nephew Sameer, an MP from Nashik, had links with Anil Bastawade, the associate who earlier this week was deported from Indonesia and is in Enforcement Directorate custody in connection with a money-laundering case in the mining scam.

Bhujbal denied the allegations, terming them “politically motivated to malign his image” and saying Somaiya hurled such charges against him “every fortnight”. In the past, he has faced allegations of corruption in the construction of Maharashtra Sadan in Delhi from Somaiya.

Somaiya alleged that the Bhujbal family had acquired mines in Indonesia with the help of Bastawade through a series of dubious deals, and that the minister and his nephew held several meetings with the Bastawade in Jakarta over a fortnight in 2010.

Somaiya said Armstrong Energy Pvt Ltd, a company allegedly owned by the Bhujbal family, had made investments in the mining sector in Indonesia and that money was laundered through Bastawade and his associates.

“Can Chhagan Bhujbal and Sameer Bhujbal disclose details of their activities between July 15, 2010, and August 1, 2010? Is it true that Armstrong Energy Pvt Ltd indulged in money laundering transactions? Can they please give full details of all financial transactions of foreign subsidiaries? The ED has found transactions linking Bhujbal’s company with Bastawade in its investigations,” said Somaiya, posing 10 questions to the Bhujbals.

Somaiya alleged Armstrong was a front company, ostensibly formed for energy generation, but has not produced any power.

Bhujbal trashed the claims. “Every fortnight, Somaiya makes allegations against me…he should go to the authorities and not the media.”

The NCP leader denied he or his family members owned mines in Indonesia or that his nephew Sameer had met Bastawade in Jakarta.

Bhujbal admitted Sameer was trying to invest in mines abroad. “But his efforts have not succeeded yet.”

Koda EC notice

The Election Commission today said the Supreme Court had last year put an “interim stay” on disqualification notices to Koda for hiding expenses in the 2009 Lok Sabha polls.

“The Supreme Court has put an interim stay on our notice. What can we do? How can we act?” said S.K. Mendiratta, legal advisor to the poll panel. He was asked about the lack of follow-up action after the poll panel served the notices in October 2010 and January 2011.