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After bars, Deshmukh had plans to go after hookah parlours

12:53 AM Sep 18, 2021 | Bhavna Uchil

Mumbai: After bars and restaurants, former Maharashtra home minister Anil Deshmukh had plans to collect money from hookah parlours from March this year onwards in exchange for them being able to function in restricted hours during the lockdown, former police officer Sachin Vaze’s statement to the Enforcement Directorate (ED) that forms part of its chargesheet in the money laundering case has revealed.

Vaze has stated that a similar collection system as for orchestra bars was also proposed for hookah parlours in the city’s suburbs. The politician had held a meeting in this regard in February this year at his official residence Dnyaneshwari where one of his sons Salil Deshmukh, another person who is the proprietor of a bar and himself were present, he has stated. “It was decided that a collection system similar to the one formulated for orchestra bars was to begin from the month of March. However, it could not be started due to my arrest,” the former cop has said. Vaze was arrested in mid-March in the Antilia bomb scare-Mansukh Hiran murder case and is presently in judicial custody.

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The ED has named two brothers – Surendra Jain and Virendra Jain – as accused of helping the Deshmukh family launder money. The Jain brothers' statements to the agency have revealed that they ran 40 dummy companies in which they and their family members are directors. These companies provided the service of bank transfer entries for cash. They have said that a chartered accountant friend from Nagpur, Sudhir Baheti, contacted them in connection with a trust Sai Shikshan Sanstha of the Deshmukh family. He was handling the audits and tax matters of the Deshmukhs. On Baheti’s request for the same, in the garb of loans, sale of shares and donations, they had transferred money received through hawala channels in cash from Baheti, Deshmukh family and associates. For this they received one perc ent commission of the total transaction, they have said. The Jain brothers have stated that the money was routed through banking channels through their web of companies to the trust managed by Deshmukhs.

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Baheti in his statement has said that in 2010 he introduced Deshmukh’s son Hrishikesh Deshmukh, who was looking after the affairs of the trust, to the Jains. His statement says Hrishikesh was looking for someone who would give donation to the trust in exchange for cash and that he introduced the parties as he knew the Jains were engaged in providing entries in bank accounts for cash. Since he knew both parties, he acted as a guarantor and coordinator and their transactions started in 2013 and continued till March this year.

“Cash was transferred to Delhi through Hawala operations which used to be looked after by Hrishikesh Deshmukh,” Baheti statement reads. Hrishikesh Deshmukh would convey to him the amount of donation, which he further conveyed to the Jains. The hawala operators, he said, would charge a commission of one per cent. Upon receiving cash, the Jains would provide donations through their firms to the Deshmukh family’s trust within two days, he has stated. A total of Rs 4.03 crore has been transferred over the years in this manner, he said. Baheti has further said that Hrishikesh would call him through WhatsApp from his mobile number or from unknown numbers of the trust regarding the transactions.

NIA opposes Sachin Vaze’s bail plea

The National Investigation Agency (NIA) on Friday opposed the bail application of former Assistant Police Inspector Sachin Vaze, an accused in the Antilia bomb scare and Mansukh Hiran murder case. Vaze had claimed bail on the ground that the court had not taken cognizance of the chargesheet within stipulated time. The NIA has stated in its reply filed before a special court that it cannot be alleged that it has defaulted in filing the chargesheet and that the plea is mischievous and whimsical. It said he is absolutely not entitled to the relief.

Ex-personal secy sacked

Nearly three months after his arrest, the Maharashtra government has suspended Sanjeev Palande, an additional collector-rank officer who was personal secretary to former state home minister Anil Deshmukh, in connection with a corruption case.

Palande was arrested on June 26 this year and is being investigated under the provisions of Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA).

Also Read: Mumbai: 10 DCPs paid Rs 40 crore to Anil Deshmukh, Anil Parab to reverse transfer order, Sachin Vaze tells ED

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