NEW DELHI: Nationalist Congress Party chief and former agriculture minister Sharad Pawar’s willingness to appear before the Enforcement Directorate on Friday, ahead of summons issued to him, is not very convincing for the agency which has charted out a detailed plan of investigation in the money laundering probe against him. The interrogation of the Maratha strongman may finally be scheduled after the conclusion of the assembly elections in the state on October 21.
According to sources, Pawar will be among the last persons to be interrogated by the ED in its probe initiated under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act. Former chairmen, managing directors, directors and some senior state politicians associated with the Maharashtra State Cooperative Bank will be among the first to be summoned for questioning in the Rs 25,000 crore money laundering probe.
Pawar will be confronted with the statements recorded by other accused in the case. The questioning of other accused is likely to begin next week. Pawar’s nephew and former Maharashtra deputy CM Ajit Pawar, besides several other NCP leaders are among those who have been accused in the money laundering probe.
The ED is also gathering details of all the sugar mills that had benefited when Sharad Pawar and his nephew Ajit Pawar were chairmen of the state cooperative bank. The ED has already gathered enough material against the NCP leaders that shows connivance of senior bank officials with the purchasers of the sugar factories that were sold at “throwaway prices”.
The agency has recovered forged documents and sale certificates of many of the loss-making sugar factories that defaulted on loans granted by the Maharashtra State Cooperative Bank. These sugar factories were sold much below the prices quoted in the sale certificate. Many other irregularities have been detected by the agency which is currently scrutinising the documents recovered in the case so far.
The former chairman and MDs of the bank have been accused of selling off the sugar factories without inviting tenders. Loans were first sanctioned to these units flouting the RBI, NABARD and SARFAESI rules. Regulatory rules were flouted by not disclosing certain high-value transactions. In several cases the bank gave loans to related parties without showing it as a related party transaction in its books of accounts.
Many of these cooperative sugar factories have become sick and were sold by the directors at a price much “below the reserve price” which ultimately gave gains to the purchasers. The ED is likely to probe Sharad Pawar and his nephew’s connection with many of these sugar factories that ultimately benefited when they were sold at below reserve price by the state cooperative bank.
According to sources, the purchasers of these sugar factories were having personal and political links to the board of directors of the bank. In fact, in many cases the consent of the borrowing sugar factories was not taken while their units were disposed of.

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