Senior Bharatiya Janata Party leader Kirit Somaiya on Friday alleged that Public Works Department Minister Chhagan Bhujbal and his family had links with Anil Vastavade, an aide of former Jharkhand Chief Minister Madhu Koda, who is in Enforcement Directorate's remand in connection with a multi-crore money-laundering case.
Addressing a press conference in Mumbai, Somaiya demanded that Bhujbal's financial dealings with Vastavade be probed by the ED.
He claimed that Bhujbal's nephew and Nashik member of Parliament Sameer Bhujbal had met Vastavade in Jakarta between July 15 and August 1, 2010.
"Funds required for acquiring a coal mine in Jakartawas transferred through hawala transaction. Accused in the Telgi scam, Antim Totla, was also present at the meetings," Somaiya charged.
He claimed that Bhujbal's company Armstrong Energy Pvt Ltd, set up with a paid capital of Rs one lakh and is running into losses of Rs 25 crore. "How can such a company which is yet to start power generation, can purchase a coal mine in another country?" Somaiya asked.
Reacting sharply, Chhagan Bhujbal described the allegations as ‘false, baseless’ and made with an intent to malign his image.
“have never been to Jakarta in my life, while I had travelled to Singapore about twenty years ago. I don't know Anil Vastavade and have never met him. I checked the period which Somaiya claims that meetings with Vastavade have taken place and found that myself and my son Pankaj were attending the legislature proceedings in Mumbai," the minister pointed out.
According to him, nephew Sameer, who is the Lok Sabha MP from Nashik may have travelled to Jakarta on several occasions, because he is in the process of acquiring a coal mine.
"The deal is yet to happen. Funds of about Rs 15 crore to Rs 20 crore, which were required for the purchase were transferred through the Reserve Bank of India and not hawala," Bhujbal said.
He said Antim Totla was a nationalist Congress Party worker and not a smuggler. "His name had figured during the Telgi case and the Central Bureau of Investigation found nothing against him," he added.
Bhujbal charged that Somaiya is not interested in a genuine probe into his allegations. "He makes an allegation and puts the onus on me to prove that I am innocent. Why doesn't he give proof of his claims?" the minister asked.
"Investigations into his allegations are on through different machineries and we are co-operating with the probe," he added when asked about Somaiya's claim that the ACB is not being allowed by the government to probe his businesses.