EOW Clears Ajit Pawar Trio in Cooperative Bank Scam, Thwarts ED Probe

Economic Offences Wing Clears Ajit Pawar, Wife, and Nephew in Maharashtra State Cooperative Bank Scam. Closure report by Mumbai Police unit undermines money-laundering allegations, sparks legal debate.

In a significant turn of events, the Economic Offences Wing (EOW) of the Mumbai Police has exonerated Maharashtra’s Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar, his wife Sunetra Pawar, and nephew Rohit Pawar from any wrongdoing in connection with the alleged money-laundering scandal involving the Maharashtra State Cooperative Bank. The EOW’s closure report, if accepted, will effectively block the Enforcement Directorate (ED) from probing the purported scam.

The case revolves around accusations that officials at the Maharashtra State Cooperative Bank orchestrated fraudulent loan disbursements to the proprietors of cooperative sugar factories, their relatives, or other private entities without adhering to due process.

Central to the investigation were two key transactions scrutinized by the EOW. The first transaction under scrutiny involved the sale of the Jarandeshwar Sugar Sahakari Karkhana, a former sugar factory located in Satara. The Enforcement Directorate had alleged that the factory was sold well below market value in 2010 to Guru Commodity Service Limited for Rs 65 crore. Of particular interest was Ajit Pawar’s association with the Pune District Central Cooperative Bank, where he held a directorial position. However, the EOW’s report asserts that Sunetra Pawar, despite being a director at Jay Agrotech, was not involved in the sale of the sugar factory at the time, thus dispelling allegations of impropriety.

The second transaction scrutinized involved Baramati Agro Limited, a company owned by Rohit Pawar, acquiring the Kannad Sahakari Sakhar Karkhana Limited sugar mill in 2012. The ED had raised concerns over the acquisition, suggesting collusion between Baramati Agro Limited and another firm named Hitech Engineering to manipulate the auction process. However, the EOW’s investigation concluded that the sale of Kannad Sahakari Sakhar Karkhana Limited was conducted within legal parameters.

With the closure report now submitted, the ball is in the court of the concerned authorities to accept or reject its findings. Should the closure report be accepted, it would effectively halt the Enforcement Directorate’s pursuit of the alleged scam under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act. This is because the ED can only investigate money laundering allegations when a case has been registered by another investigative agency, referred to as a scheduled or predicate offence.

The case has been a subject of controversy, with allegations of corruption and political influence being discussed widely. Despite this, the EOW found no criminal offense in the case, leading to the exoneration of the Ajit Pawar trio. The news of their clearance comes amid a backdrop of political shifts and alliances, notably Ajit Pawar’s recent alignment with the BJP’s alliance. This development has fueled speculation and commentary on social media regarding the timing and implications of the clean chit.

As discussions continue to unfold both online and offline, the integrity of the investigative process and the perceived impartiality of law enforcement agencies remain under scrutiny. The ramifications of this decision extend beyond the individuals involved, resonating within Maharashtra’s political landscape and beyond.

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