Khichdi scam: Shiv Sena (UBT) functionary used ‘proceeds of crime’ to buy properties, claims ED

The “proceeds of crime” received by Shiv Sena (UBT) functionary Suraj Chavan, an accused in a money laundering case, were used to buy properties and for investment in dairy business, the Enforcement Directorate (ED) claimed before a court here on Monday.

The special PMLA court in Mumbai extended Chavan’s custody to the ED till January 25 in the money laundering case linked to the alleged irregularities in the distribution of ‘khichdi’ to migrants during the COVID-19 period.

Chavan, who is a core committee member of the Yuva Sena, youth wing of the Uddhav Thackeray-led Shiv Sena (UBT), was arrested on January 17 under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) after he was questioned at the agency’s office here.

He is said to be a close associate of Shiv Sena (UBT) leader Aaditya Thackeray.

As Chavan’s initial ED custody ended on Monday, the probe agency sought an extension of his remand for seven days, claiming the accused played a “very crucial role” in the offence of money laundering.

The money laundering case stems from an FIR of the Mumbai Police’s Economic Offences Wing (EOW).

According to police, alleged irregularities took place while giving contracts by the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) for providing ‘khichdi’ to migrants during the COVID-19.

The probe agency said for the supply of khichdi packets, an amount of Rs. 8.64 crore was transferred by the BMC in the bank account of Force One Multi Services (which was given the work order for khichdi).

The investigation conducted under PMLA revealed that Force One Multi Services has generated the “proceeds of crime” of around Rs 3.64 crore, of which Rs 1.25 crore were diverted to the personal bank account of Chavan and Rs 10 lakh to the bank account of his partnership firm – Fire Fighters Enterprises, the ED claimed.

In this manner, accused Chavan wrongfully acquired the “proceeds of crime” to the tune of Rs 1.35 crore, it alleged.

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“The probe under ED custody further revealed that the funds amounting to Rs 1.35 crore, so admittedly received by accused Chavan from Force One Multi Services, were utilised in the purchase of immovable residential flat, agricultural land, investment in dairy business, payment of personal tax liabilities and other personal expenses,” the agency claimed.

Additional documents from police authorities are sought and required to be confronted with Chavan, it said.

Also, an examination of other key personnel of the Force One Multi Services and associates is underway and outcome of the same needs to be confronted with the accused, he being one of the key persons, which may reveal crucial facts for unearthing the ‘Khichdi Scam’, the ED said.

While seeking further custody of the accused, the probe agency said a sustained interrogation under custody is required to unearth the trail of funds.

The court extended Chavan’s custody to the ED till January 25.

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