Nationalist Congress Party’s Ajit Pawar, who on Saturday was appointed the Deputy Chief Minister of Maharashtra in the BJP-led government, faces two criminal investigations.
The first case was registered by the Economic Offences Wing (EOW) of the Mumbai Police against him and about 70 former functionaries of the Maharashtra State Cooperative Bank (MSCB) in connection with an alleged ₹25,000-crore scam.
The FIR was lodged following a Bombay High Court’s directive on August 22 to probe the allegations.
Based on the police case, the Enforcement Directorate had on September 24 registered a separate case against Mr. Pawar and others under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act. Money laundering is a criminal offence.
The probe is also against the then chairman, managing directors and directors of the MSCB, along with Diliprao Deshmukh, Isharlal Jain, Jayant Patil, Shivaji Rao Nalvade, Anand Rao Adsul, Rajendra Shingane, Madan Patil and others, according to the ED.
As alleged, the then top functionaries of the bank conspired with the office-bearers and directors of the cooperative sugar factories and Soot Girnis to give out loans in a fraudulent manner.
The loans were given despite weak financials and negative net-worth of the factories, whose owners had alleged close 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, the agency alleged.
The alleged mismanagement, apart from increasing overhead expenditure, worsened the sugar factories’ financial well-being and they were sold at a rate much lower than the reserve price. The buyers had personal or political links with the board of directors. Also, the consent of the borrowing units was not taken.
Mr. Pawar had also come under the scanner in connection with the alleged irrigation scam , after the BJP government’s Anti-Corruption Bureau filed an affidavit in the Bombay High Court last year.
The alleged multi-crore scam happened during the NCP-Congress government in Maharashtra when Mr. Pawar was the Deputy Chief Minister and had also held the charge of Water Resources Ministry.