Mumbai: Former Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister and senior NCP leader Chhagan Bhujbal was arrested late this evening by the Enforcement Directorate in a money laundering case connected to the Maharashtra Sadan construction scam. The arrest comes after the agency questioned Mr. Bhujbal for over 10 hours.
- The arrest took place after 10 hours of questioning.
- ED claims the Bhujbal family received kickbacks of around Rs 870 crore.
- His nephew Sameer Bhujbal has been arrested, his son Pankaj questioned.
In an interview to NDTV last month, Mr Bhujbal had claimed that the Maharashtra government would not dare arrest him.
The Enforcement Directorate alleges that the Bhujbals received kickbacks for awarding various government contracts, including the Maharashtra Sadan in Delhi, to the tune of Rs 870 crore. Part of this money, the ED claims, was parked abroad and also routed into India through various shell companies located across the country.
One of these companies, Armstrong Energy, owned by the Bhujbals, is also under investigation.
The agency had questioned the NCP leader earlier today. Anticipating trouble from his supporters, the police had imposed prohibitory orders in the area around the ED office in upscale Ballard Estate in south Mumbai.
The agency had arrested Mr Bhujbal's nephew and former lawmaker Sameer Bhujbal on February 1. Mr Bhujbals' son Pankaj, too, has been questioned.
On February 24, Mr Bhujbal, Pankaj and a few others were chargesheeted - the accusations include cheating, forgery and conspiracy. The agency had also conducted searches at nine properties belonging to the Bhujbals as part of its probe.
The NCP had described the case as "political vendetta". NCP spokesperson Jitendra Ahwad said today that Mr Bhujbal is being "victimised."
"Party chief Sharad Pawar and all other members stand by Mr Bhujbal in this hour of crisis. We are here in full strength to support him," he said.