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Homechevron_rightIndiachevron_rightAjit Pawar, wife,...

Ajit Pawar, wife, nephew cleared in money laundering case after EOW exoneration

Ajit Pawar, wife, nephew cleared in money laundering case after EOW exoneration

Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar, who was under the Damocles' sword before aligning with the BJP, has now received relief after the Economic Offences Wing of the Mumbai Police gave him, his wife Sunetra Pawar, and nephew Rohit Pawar a clean chit in a high-profile money-laundering scandal allegedly involving the Maharashtra State Cooperative Bank.

The case, which had gripped headlines for its implications on political dynamics within Maharashtra, centered around accusations that officials at the bank had orchestrated fraudulent loan disbursements to owners of cooperative sugar factories and their associates, sidestepping due process.

The controversy reached fever pitch when Ajit Pawar, accompanied by a cohort of party MLAs, defected from the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) to join the coalition government led by the BJP and the Shiv Sena.

His subsequent elevation to the post of deputy chief minister only fuelled the flames of dissent within the NCP, leading to a schism between supporters of party patriarch Sharad Pawar and those backing his nephew Ajit.

At the heart of the allegations lay transactions involving prominent sugar factories, notably the Jarandeshwar Sugar Sahakari Karkhana in Satara and the Kannad Sahakari Sakhar Karkhana Limited. The Enforcement Directorate had raised eyebrows over the purportedly underpriced sale of Jarandeshwar Sugar Sahakari Karkhana to Guru Commodity Service Limited in 2010, a deal allegedly facilitated by cooperative bank loans.

Similarly, questions swirled around the acquisition of Kannad Sahakari Sakhar Karkhana Limited by Baramati Agro Limited, owned by Rohit Pawar, amid suspicions of collusion and manipulation.

However, the Economic Offences Wing's exhaustive investigation appears to have exonerated the Pawar trio, delivering a significant blow to the narrative of wrongdoing that had overshadowed their political careers.

The closure report filed by the agency emphasized that the Maharashtra State Cooperative Bank did not suffer any financial losses attributable to the purported irregularities. Furthermore, it underscored the recovery of a substantial portion of the fraudulent loans extended by the bank, totaling a staggering Rs 1,343.41 crore.

Central to the Economic Offences Wing's findings were two pivotal transactions that had come under intense scrutiny. Firstly, the sale of Jarandeshwar Sugar Sahakari Karkhana was scrutinized, with allegations swirling around Sunetra Pawar's purported involvement through her directorship in Jay Agrotech. However, the report categorically refuted any connection between Sunetra Pawar and Jay Agrotech at the time of the sugar factory's sale, dismantling the foundation of the accusations leveled against her.

Secondly, the acquisition of Kannad Sahakari Sakhar Karkhana Limited by Baramati Agro Limited, spearheaded by Rohit Pawar, was dissected. Despite assertions of impropriety and collusion with firms like Hitech Engineering, the Economic Offences Wing concluded that the sale was conducted within legal parameters, further bolstering the Pawar family's vindication.

With the closure report effectively stymying any further investigation by the Enforcement Directorate, the specter of money laundering charges looms less menacingly over the Pawars. Under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act, the Enforcement Directorate's purview is contingent upon the registration of a case by another investigative agency, commonly referred to as a scheduled or predicate offense.

The acceptance of the closure report thus acts as a formidable barrier against potential legal repercussions.

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TAGS:BJPMoney Laundering CaseNCPAjit Pawar
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