Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut skips ED summons

Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut skipped appearing before the Enforcement Directorate (ED) in Mumbai on Wednesday for questioning in a money-laundering case, citing his engagement with the ongoing Parliament session in Delhi, sources said.
The Rajya Sabha MP’s lawyers met ED officials in Mumbai with his written response to the summons and sought time for him after the first week of August.
The federal probe agency will issue him a fresh date after going through the submissions made by his legal team, officials said.
They said Raut (60) has expressed his inability to appear before the agency at its Mumbai zonal office as he is attending the Parliament session.
The Sena leader has denied any wrongdoing and alleged that he is being targeted due to political vendetta.
Raut is a loyalist of former Maharashtra chief minister Uddhav Thackeray, who was recently forced out of office following a rebellion and split in the Shiv Sena.
Raut was questioned in the case on July 1. He had spent about 10 hours with the investigating officer during which his statement was recorded under the criminal sections of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA).
“I gave full cooperation and answered all their questions. I will appear again if they call me,” Raut had told reporters after he was grilled by the ED.
He said he was “fearless and undaunted” as he had “not done anything wrong in life”.
The development comes amid a rebellion in the Shiv Sena with a tussle over the party symbol and the control of the organisation between Thackeray and current Maharashtra Chief Minister Eknath Shinde.
In April, the ED had provisionally attached assets worth over Rs 11.15 crore of Raut’s wife Varsha Raut and two of his associates as part of its probe.
The attached properties are in the form of land held by Pravin M Raut, Sanjay Raut’s aide and a former director of Guru Ashish Construction Private Limited, at Palghar, Saphale (a town in Palghar) and Padgha (in Thane district).
The properties also include a flat in Mumbai suburb Dadar held by Varsha Raut and eight plots at the Kihim beach in Alibaug jointly held by Varsha Raut and Swapna Patkar, the wife of Sujit Patkar, a “close associate” of Sanjay Raut, the ED had said.
The agency wants to question Sanjay Raut to know about his “business and other links” with Pravin Raut and Patkar and also about the property deals involving his wife.
After arresting Pravin Raut in February, the ED had said he appears to be “acting as a front” or in collusion with some influential person.
The agency had also said Pravin Raut had made payments to certain “politically-exposed persons”.
In the Alibaug land deal, apart from the registered value, “cash” payments were made to the sellers, the agency had alleged.
Pravin Raut was arrested by the ED in a probe linked to a Rs 1,034-crore alleged land scam related to the re-development of the Patra “chawl” in Mumbai’s Goregaon area. He is currently in judicial custody.
Guru Ashish Construction Private Limited was involved in the re-development of the “chawl”, which had 672 tenants living in tenements on 47 acres belonging to the Maharashtra Housing Area Development Authority (MHADA), the ED had said earlier. (PTI)