Get all your news in one place.
100’s of premium titles.
One app.
Start reading
The Hindu
The Hindu
Abhinay Deshpande

Money-laundering probe | NCP MLA Rohit Pawar appears before Enforcement Directorate

Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) MLA Rohit Pawar, grandnephew of party patriarch Sharad Pawar, appeared before the Enforcement Directorate (ED) on January 24 in a money laundering case linked to the alleged Maharashtra State Cooperative Bank scam in 2019. 

The 38-year-old first-time legislator from Karjat-Jamkhed strolled from the party office to the ED office in South Mumbai’s Ballard Estate after he met Mr. Sharad Pawar and his daughter, Baramati MP Supriya Sule, seeking their blessings.  

Later, Ms. Sule accompanied Mr. Rohit Pawar to the central agency’s office entrance, which was heavily barricaded to prevent the party workers from entering the premises. Ms. Sule handed him over a copy of the Indian Constitution. 

Earlier in the day, he also visited the Vidhan Bhavan and paid tributes at the statue of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj and a plaque of the Indian Constitution.

On January 19, the ED summoned the young Pawar for questioning in the case and asked him to appear before the agency on January 24. The legislator requested that he be permitted to appear on January 22 or 23 instead, citing the impending arrival of pro-Maratha quota protesters in Mumbai on the date cited by the ED. However, there was no response from the investigating agency.  

On January 5, the ED conducted searches at six locations — Baramati, Pune, Chhatrapati Sambhajinagar (previously Aurangabad), and Pimpri-Chinchwad — linked to Baramati Agro Private Limited, a firm owned by Mr. Rohit Pawar, who is also the nephew of Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar, who represents the Baramati Assembly constituency.

‘Nothing to do with scam’

Heading to the ED office, Mr. Rohit Pawar said he was carrying all the files and documents the agency had asked for and that he would answer all their questions and he had nothing to do with this particular scam.

Earlier, taking to X, the legislator on Tuesday posted: “I will be going to the ED office tomorrow (Wednesday 24th January) for an inquiry and I will cooperate fully with the authorities as I have done earlier. But, looking at the current politics of revenge, there is a lot of pressure from the government on all the institutions.”

“If the ED takes any wrong action against me, no one should be afraid. Instead, everyone should stand united with the respected (Mr. Sharad) Pawar sahib and every person who preserves the self-respect of Maharashtra and believes in the Constitution. We want to maintain the self-respect of Maharashtra without bowing to anyone,” he said.

He further said that for his family and young children, “this dirty politics is beyond comprehension.” “But everyone is still firmly with me. Supriya (Sule) Tai and respected (Sharad) Pawar Sahib himself are also coming. What happened to his age? Older people also give opportunities to the young and stand as a shield and as a father figure. For me, this is overwhelming.”

The Maharashtra State Cooperative Bank money laundering case originated from an August 2019 FIR by the Mumbai Police’s Economic Offences Wing.

Fund diversion charges

The ED’s investigation into Mr. Rohit Pawar’s firm focuses on allegations of fund diversion and the deposit of earnest funds related to a company bidding for the purchase of a Maharashtra-based ailing cooperative sugar factory.

The Mumbai police and the ED are investigating the involvement of more than 70 leaders, including 50 from the NCP, nine from the Congress, two from the Shiv Sena, and one from the BJP. Although Mr. Ajit Pawar is accused in the FIR, Mr. Sharad Pawar is not named in the case registered by Mumbai police; the agency is nonetheless probing his involvement.

Previously, the Pawars and the NCP had dismissed the case as politically motivated. It gained political importance, emerging as a focal point during the 2019 Maharashtra Assembly election when the NCP patriarch volunteered to appear before the ED for interrogation.

In 2020, when challenging the Mumbai police’s exoneration in the case, the ED informed the court that Baramati Agro not only supported another company’s bid to acquire a struggling cooperative sugar factory by funding the earnest deposits, but also financed the purchases through case credit from different banks intended for working capital, thereby engaging in the alleged diversion of funds.

Sign up to read this article
Read news from 100’s of titles, curated specifically for you.
Already a member? Sign in here
Related Stories
Top stories on inkl right now
Our Picks
Fourteen days free
Download the app
One app. One membership.
100+ trusted global sources.