The Enforcement Directorate on Thursday raided multiple locations of Maharashtra Transport Minister Anil Parab and others as part of a money laundering probe linked to alleged violation of coastal regulation zone norms in the construction of a resort in the Dapoli beach area of Ratnagiri district, officials said.
The federal probe agency has filed a fresh case against the minister and others under the criminal sections of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act.
His role was already being probed by the Enforcement Directorate in another money laundering case booked against former Maharashtra home minister and Nationalist Congress Party leader Anil Deshmukh.
At least seven premises, including Parab's official residence 'Ajinkyatara' in Mumbai's Bandra area, linked premises in Dapoli and Pune and those of people allegedly linked to him like Sadanand Kadam were searched by the agency.
A Central Reserve Police Force contingent provided security to the ED team.
Several Shiv Sena workers gathered outside the minister's official as well as personal residence in Mumbai and held protests against the ED action.
Parab (57), is a three-time Shiv Sena legislator in the Maharashtra Legislative Council, the Upper House of the legislature, and is the state transport and parliamentary affairs minister.
The agency also questioned the minister and recorded his preliminary statement as part of the case that has been filed after taking cognisance of a recent Union Environment Ministry show cause notice that called the Dapoli resort "illegal" and in alleged violation of the Coastal Regulation Zone norms.
Dapoli, about 230 km from state capital Mumbai, is a scenic coastal hill station and is called Maharashtra's 'mini Mahabaleshwar' because of its round-the-year cool weather and salubrious surroundings. A number of real estate projects comprising villas, row houses and flats are coming up in the area.
Parab is facing some other charges of alleged irregularities and corruption.
The first set of charges pertains to allegations of purchase of a parcel of land in Dapoli by Parab sometime in 2017 for a consideration of Rs 1 crore and it was registered in 2019.
It is alleged that the land was subsequently sold to a Mumbai-based cable operator Sadanand Kadam in 2020 for a consideration of Rs 1.10 crore.
In between, a resort was built on the same land from 2017 to 2020.
The Income Tax Department had made these allegations after it conducted raids in March against some people allegedly close to Parab like Kadam and deputy regional transport officer (RTO) Bajrang Kharmate.
The CBDT said in a statement issued in March, without taking any names, that the construction of the resort started in 2017 and over Rs 6 crore was spent in cash on construction of the resort.
"It transpires that the relevant facts about the construction of the resort were not intimated to the registration authorities and accordingly, the stamp duty was paid only for the registration of the land on both the occasions i.e. in 2019 and in 2020," it said.
Cost of construction of the same has not been accounted for either by the person searched (Kadam) or the politician (Parab) in their books of account, the Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT), the administrative body for the tax department, had said.
The Environment Ministry notice is alleged to have stated that the building and road of the Dapoli resort falls within 200 metres of the high tide zone, which qualifies as no-development zone under CRZ-III. Parab has categorically denied his association with this resort.
Another case in which Parab has been under the radar of the ED and was also questioned by the agency at its office in Mumbai in September last year pertains to the PMLA case linked to former home minister Deshmukh.
Former police officer Sachin Waze, arrested by the NIA in a case of recovery of an explosives-laden SUV near industrialist Mukesh Ambani's house in Mumbai, had levelled certain allegations against Parab.
Waze had alleged in a letter, which he sought to submit before a court, that in January 2021, Parab asked him to carry out an inquiry against "fraudulent" contractors listed in the Mumbai civic body and "collect" at least Rs 2 crore from about 50 such contractors.
Parab had then rejected Waze's claims and said he was ready to face any probe into the allegations.
Waze in his statement to the ED had claimed that Parab received crores of rupees as bribe from Kharmate for transfer of some police officers in Mumbai during 2020.
The Maha Vikas Aghadi government in the state is led by Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray.
It was formed in 2019 after Thackeray's party Shiv Sena, the Nationalist Congress Party and Congress joined hands to run the state.
These parties have alleged that central probe agencies, including the ED, have been targeting politicians and families from their parties at the behest of the Bharatiya Janata Party-led government at the Centre.
BJP leaders have said that the agencies were doing their job independently and acting only on the basis of evidence.