Money laundering probe: ED questions Sena MLA’s son

Express News Service | Mumbai |

December 23, 2020 7:37:14 pm

The ED has accused Pratap Sarnaik of getting kickbacks from Topsgrup to the tune of Rs 7 crore. (Express photo by Ganesh Shirsekar)

The Enforcement Directorate (ED) on Wednesday questioned Vihang Sarnaik, son of Shiv Sena MLA Pratap Sarnaik, in connection with a Rs 175 crore money laundering probe involving Topsgrup Services and Pratap Sarnaik.

Sources said that Vihang appeared before the ED on Wednesday after the agency sent six summons asking him to come in for questioning. Vihang told the agency that he was not able to appear before as his wife is unwell.

The agency had also summoned Vihang’s brother Purvesh Sarnaik and Pratap Sarnaik on December 21 but both of them failed to appear before it. The ED has already questioned Pratap Sarnaik’s brother-in-law Yogesh Chandegala and a few others.

Sources said Vihang was questioned by the agency on the alleged offshore entities of the family and the alleged fund diversion.

The ED case is based on an FIR, filed on October 28 by a former employee of Topsgrup, Ramesh Iyer, who has alleged that the company cheated the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) of Rs 175 crore. The contract pertained to supply of over 350 security guards to MMRDA, but it is alleged that Topsgrup provided only 70 per cent of the workforce and billed the authority for the full amount.

This MMRDA contract, the ED has alleged, was facilitated by Pratap Sarnaik — the agency accuses the legislator of getting kickbacks from Topsgrup to the tune of Rs 7 crore.

On December 9, a day before Pratap Sarnaik appeared before the ED, the Supreme Court directed the agency to not take any coercive steps against Sarnaik, Vihang and Yogesh.

Sarnaik, a three-time Sena MLA from Thane, had initiated a breach of privilege motion against Republic TV editor-in-chief Arnab Goswami for his remarks against Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray and other state ministers. He was also one of the first politicians in the state to seek a reinvestigation into the Anvay Naik suicide case, for which Goswami was subsequently arrested by Raigad police.

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