ACB claims Pankaj, Sameer cheated state to tune of Rs 500cr.
Mumbai: The state Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) on Thursday registered an FIR against 17 persons, including Pankaj and Sameer Bhujbal, for building a commercial complex on a residential plot in Oshiwara and cheating the state government to the tune of around Rs 500 crore.
The case pertains to a plot in Oshiwara, which was sought for construction of a cooperative housing society for which bogus members were made in the name of ‘Tulsi CHS.’ An investigation conducted by the ACB revealed that the then Maharashtra Housing and Area Development Authority (Mhada) officials were also part of the fraud and they gave clearances for a reserved plot to be exploited commercially.
The said plot was, however, used for building a multi-storey commercial complex with office spaces, which was ready and sold out in 2002. The ACB conducted a year-long investigation after the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) lodged a complaint with it in connection with the illegalities of the project and a case was finally registered by the officials.
Those booked in the case include the then Mhada officials and members along with Pankaj and Sameer Bhujbal, both directors of Bhavesh Builders Pvt Ltd, the developers who constructed the commercial structure.
Investigators said the accused also arranged for fake witnesses and society members following which the authorities issued clearances to the project, paving the way for the commercial building to come up.
“Documents of the six witnesses for the said project were bogus, bearing fictitious signatures and papers. The same was used to float Tulsi CHS Ltd to cheat the state government and acquire a reserved plot. Public servants then issued requisite clearances without conducting any checks of the plan and its authenticity,” said an ACB officer.
The investigations then revealed that Uttam Khobragade, the then vice-president and chief officer of Mhada along with the agency’s architects, chief officer and assistants of Mumbai region first issued clearances to make the project partly commercial and subsequently a green signal was given to make the whole project a commercial one, officials said.
A flurry of cases
The state ACB was probing the case of graft allegation in connection with the Maharashtra Sadan scam. The FIR stated that the move benefited the developer, K.S. Chamankar, and the state suffered losses to its exchequer. The accused in the case were NCP leader Chhagan Bhujbal, his son Pankaj, nephew, Sameer, government employees and private parties namely Arun Devdhar, Manik Shah, Devdutt Marathe, Deepak Despande, Bipin Sankhe, Anilkumar Gaikwad, Krishna Chamankar, Pravina Chamankar, Pranita Chamankar, Prasanna Chamankar, Tanvir Shaikh, Iram Shaikh, Sanjay Divakar Joshi and Geeta Sanjay Joshi. Bhujbal and others have been booked under various sections of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988 and the Indian Penal Code.
In March 2016, ED summoned Chagan Bhujbal for questioning in the scam over allegations of money laundering, under provisions of FEMA. The summons came after the ACB filed its chargesheet. The ED had filed two separate cases in June 2015 against Bhujbals under the PMLA act. In February 2016, ED arrested Sameer Bhujbal and in March 2016, ED arrested Chhagan Bhujbal in a money laundering case. The ACB has also filed an FIR in the Kalina land deal against Bhujbals of which the chargesheet is yet to be filed.