The Enforcement Directorate has registered a money laundering case purportedly involving NCP chief Sharad Pawar, his nephew Ajit Pawar and about 70 former functionaries of the Maharashtra State Cooperative Bank (MSCB) to probe an alleged ₹25,000-crore scam.
The agency has launched the probe on the basis of an FIR lodged by the Economic Offences Wing of the Mumbai Police, following a Bombay High Court directive on August 22.
“The money laundering case has been registered against the then chairman, managing directors and directors of the Maharashtra State Cooperative Bank, along with Mr. Sharad Pawar, Mr. Ajit Pawar, Diliprao Deshmukh, Isharlal Jain, Jayant Patil, Shivaji Rao Nalvade, Anand Rao Adsul, Rajendra Shingane, Madan Patil and others,” said an agency official.
It is alleged that the then top executives and managerial staff of the bank conspired with office-bearers and directors of Sakhar Karkhanas (cooperative sugar factories) and Soot Girnis to give out loans in a “fraudulent” manner.
The loans were provided to the factories, despite their weak financials and negative net-worth, whose owners had alleged links with the bank officials. No collateral was taken in several cases and additional working facilities were also extended to some factories without prudent reasons, as is alleged.
“There were several irregularities in the sanctioning of loans, committed only with the purpose of extending benefits to the directors of the lending bank, thereby defrauding and cheating the bank and its shareholders,” said the agency official.
Owing to the alleged mismanagement, besides increasing overhead expenditures, the sugar factories turned sick and were sold at a rate much lower than the reserve price. The buyers had personal or political links with the board of directors. The consent of borrowing units was not taken before undertaking such a sale, the agency alleged.
Listing the alleged irregularities, the agency claimed that the directors flouted various NABARD, RBI and SARFAESI guidelines. “There was a huge misappropriation of funds on the part of committee members, directors and loan committee members of the cooperative bank,” the ED has alleged.
Ajit Pawar served as Maharashtra’s Deputy Chief Minister from November 10, 2010, to September 26, 2014.