ED Grills NCP MLA Rohit Pawar in Money-Laundering Probe Linked to MSCB Scam

Mumbai, 31st January 2024: The Enforcement Directorate (ED) has interrogated NCP MLA Rohit Pawar in connection to a money-laundering case linked to the Rs 25,000-crore Maharashtra State Cooperative Bank (MSCB) scam. The questioning took place on January 24, just four days after the Economic Offences Wing (EOW) of the city police submitted its second closure report in the case.

The EOW’s First Information Report (FIR) serves as the basis for the ED’s ongoing investigation. In 2023, the ED filed its initial chargesheet against Jarandeshwar Sugar Mills, associated with Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar. Although the chargesheet acknowledged Ajit Pawar’s connection to the company, he was not named as an accused. Subsequently, the ED filed a supplementary chargesheet, naming NCP MLA Prajakt Tanpure and others.

In 2020, the EOW initially filed a closure report in the MSCB scam, implicating Ajit Pawar and other politicians, including Rohit Pawar. However, in 2022, the EOW sought to reopen the case, expressing a desire to further investigate suspicious deals involving the Pawars and other transactions. The application referenced the ED’s parallel investigation into the money-laundering aspect of the scam. On January 20, the EOW, through special public prosecutor Ajay Misar, submitted a second closure report (C-summary).

During the recent ED questioning on January 24, Rohit Pawar was grilled for 11 hours regarding the acquisition of the sick sugar mill, Kannad SSK Aurangabad, through his company Baramati Agro Pvt Ltd. The mill was purchased in an auction conducted by MSCB. The ED has summoned him again for further questioning on February 1.

Ajit Pawar’s political positions during key junctures of the case were noted. At the time of the first closure report, he held the position of Deputy Chief Minister in the MVA government. When EOW applied for permission to conduct further investigation, he served as the leader of the opposition in the Eknath Shinde government. Currently, he is Deputy Chief Minister after forming an alliance with Shinde and Devendra Fadnavis.

MSCB oversees 31 district central cooperative banks, predominantly named after respective districts and often led by politicians.