Raiding properties of other accused alerted Chhagan Bhujbal: ACB

Officials said raiding the houses of the six other accused in the Maharashtra Sadan scam before carrying out raids on the former deputy CM’s properties may have alerted him; could explain why they have not been able to recover scam-related documents, cash or gold from him

The Anti-Corruption Bureau carried out searches at the properties owned by former deputy chief minister Chhagan Bhujbal for the second consecutive day yesterday. Teams from the bureau searched the MET college office in Bandra, but returned empty-handed as they did not find anything related to their investigations.

Raids were carried out at several places where Bhujbal and his family own properties, including the Sukhada Co-operative Society in Worli (above) on Tuesday. The office of the MET college in Bandra, of which Bhujbal is the founder chairman, was raided yesterday. Pic/Shadab Khan
Raids were carried out at several places where Bhujbal and his family own properties, including the Sukhada Co-operative Society in Worli (above) on Tuesday. The office of the MET college in Bandra, of which Bhujbal is the founder chairman, was raided yesterday. Pic/Shadab Khan

Sources in the ACB admitted that searching the properties of State Information Commissioner Deepak Deshpande and six other accused in the Maharashtra Sadan scam before carrying out raids on Bhujbal’s properties may have been a big mistake.

They said the former PWD minister seemed to have got a hint that his properties were likely to be searched and may have destroyed all the papers related to the scams he has been booked for, besides moving cash and gold from his properties.

“Carrying out the raids on Deshpande’s properties may have been a big mistake as, so far, we have neither found any papers related to the New Maharashtra Sadan scam nor any cash or gold from Bhujbal’s properties,” said a senior officer privy to the investigations.

Costly error
The ACB had raided the residences of Deshpande on Sunday and had found R2.68 crore in cash, 1.53 kg gold and 27 kg silver. They had also found details of five properties owned by the information commissioner in Aurangabad, three in Pune and one in Thane.

On Tuesday, ACB had raided around sixteen properties owned by Bhujbal and his family in Nashik, Mumbai and Pune but had not found cash, gold or documents pertaining to the scams.

“Bhujbal is cooperating in the investigations and we will seek an explanation from him about the properties. Also, a state government valuer will calculate the value of his properties,” said an ACB officer.

Declaration
Bhujbal had declared in an election affidavit last year that he had properties worth Rs 3.77 crore, six lakh in cash, bank accounts in Saraswat Bank and Mumbai Mahila Co-operative Credit Society.

His son, Pankaj, had declared he had around Rs 65 lakh in income and total property worth Rs 16 crore and his nephew, Sameer, had declared property worth Rs 4 crore. The ACB was unable to find any cash and gold at Bhujbal’s properties even though he had declared that he owned gold worth Rs 51 lakh in his affidavit.

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