Deshmukh mastermind, brain behind money laundering conspiracy, ED tells HC
The Enforcement Directorate (ED) on Thursday told the Bombay High Court that Maharashtra's former home minister Anil Deshmukh was the "mastermind and brain" behind the money laundering conspiracy and that he had misused his official position to amass wealth.
The agency also alleged that Deshmukh exercised undue influence to pass favourable transfers and postings of police officials.
The ED filed its affidavit in the high court in response to the bail plea of Deshmukh.
The affidavit filed by Tassine Sultan, assistant director of ED, sought for Deshmukh's plea to be rejected as it was "devoid of merits" and said that Deshmukh may influence the probe as he was an influential person.
"The applicant (Deshmukh) is the mastermind of the entire conspiracy hatched with his son Hrishikesh Deshmukh, Sachin Waze (dismissed police officer), Sanjeev Palande and Kundan Shinde (Deshmukh's former aides)," the agency said.
"The applicant is the main conspirator and the brain behind the whole conspiracy to collect money from bars and restaurant owners," the affidavit said.
The agency further claimed that Deshmukh amassed huge wealth during his public service and the source of this wealth is still unexplained.
"Deshmukh has not cooperated with the probe and was not able to explain the source of the wealth and was hiding the actual facts," it said.
The central agency further claimed that Deshmukh has admitted that an unofficial list used to be circulated containing the names of police officials and respective places where they were to be transferred, for which no records were maintained.
The agency said the probe into the case is still at a nascent stage and hence granting bail would hamper the investigation and obfuscate the trail of proceeds of crime that is yet to be identified.
Deshmukh was arrested by the ED in November 2021, and is currently in judicial custody.
The NCP leader filed a petition in the high court after a special court rejected his bail plea earlier this month. He sought bail on grounds of his ailing health and termed the ED's case as false and frivolous.
A single bench of Justice Anuja Prabhudessai will hear Deshmukh's plea on Friday.
The ED in its affidavit said Deshmukh and others obtained undue advantage for improper and dishonest performance of their public duty.
"They have exercised undue influence over the transfer and posting of officials and thereby exercising undue influence over the performance of official duties by the officials," it said.
The applicant in consultation with one cabinet minister used to prepare a list of names of police officials for the purpose of transfer and postings, which used to be unofficially forwarded to the Additional Chief Secretary, Home and the Head of the Police Establishment Board," the ED said.
It added that there is no record of these meetings and there no guidelines for preparation of such an unofficial list.
The proceedings of the Police Establishment Board were a mere formality wherein the members in spite of their reservation and protest had to agree and sign the recommendations of the meeting which used to be then sent to the competent authorities, that is the home minister and the chief minister, the agency said.
The ED said the then Additional Chief Secretary Sitaram Kunte in his statement to the agency said that Deshmukh has handed him an unofficial list containing names of police officers with regard to favourable transfer and postings.
The agency further said that Deshmukh was accused of an economic offence that is of a grave and serious nature.
"Several authorities have time and again emphasized the deleterious impact and heinous nature of an economic offence on the national economy," the affidavit said.
The ED claimed that dismissed cop Sachin Waze was called by Deshmukh when he was the state home minister, to his residence 'Dnyaneshwari' several times and repeatedly instructed him to assist in collection of funds to achieve the target of Rs 100 crore a month from restaurants and bars.
Deshmukh used to call junior police officers to his official residence and give them instructions to carry out official assignments and collection schemes, including financial transactions, it said.
The ED reiterated that Waze had collected Rs 4.70 crore from restaurants and bars and handed the same to Deshmukh's former aide Kundan Shinde.
The money, according to ED, was sent through hawala and later deposited as donations to a Nagpur-based trust owned by the Deshmukh family.
"Scrutiny of the records of the trust 'Shri Sai Shikshan Sanstha' revealed that the applicant has been actively using the modus operandi to launder his unaccounted cash," the ED said.
"Investigations revealed that the applicant in connivance with his family members has laundered unaccounted cash money totally amounting to Rs 13.25 crore. This was deposited later in the Trust in the garb of donation, since 2011," the affidavit alleged.
Deshmukh has been using this modus operandi of infusing cash as share capital through shell companies and projecting the same as legitimate has built a formidable empire of businesses, the ED said.
Former Mumbai police commissioner Param Bir Singh had accused Deshmukh of asking Waze to collect money from bar owners in Mumbai, a charge which the NCP leader denied.