The Enforcement Directorate (ED) today questioned Shiv Sena MLA Pratap Sarnaik in connection with a money laundering probe involving security services provider Tops Grup and the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA).
Mr Sarnaik, 56, arrived at the ED office in Mumbai today around 11 am, after twice failing to present himself before the agency that had summoned him. When summoned for the first time, Mr Sarnaik had said he was under COVID-19 quarantine, which ended on Tuesday, according to ANI.
His son, Vihang Sarnaik, who is also being probed in the case, has already been questioned once.
The matter involves a contract between Tops Grup and MMRDA, according to which the latter’s projects are to be provided security cover by the company. The ED is probing allegations that Top Grup only provided 70% personnel to the government body, but billed it fully.
It alleges that one Amit Chandole, who has since been arrested along with Tops Grup MD M Shashidharan, was responsible for the Tops Grup’s bills being cleared by MMRDA. Mr Chandole is said to be close to Mr Sarnaik and the agency alleges that the MLA received 50% of the overcharged amount.
The agency has already searched the residential premises of Mr Sarnaik and his sons.
The Tops Grup probe has led to the latest standoff between the Shiv Sena and the BJP. After ED initiated proceedings in the case, the Mumbai Police’s economic offences wing launched a probe against one Ramesh Iyyer, the complainant in the Tops Grup case.
Mr Sarnaik has, in the meantime, obtained an interim relief from the Supreme Court against any coercive action.