Shiv Sena MLA Pratap Sarnaik was questioned by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) for more than six hours at its office here on Thursday in an alleged money laundering case. Sarnaik, whose properties had been searched by the ED last month, appeared at the central agency’s Ballard Estate office around 11 am, and left around 5.30 pm.
He was cooperating with the probe, and if there was any scam or corruption in which Tops Security Service was involved, it should come out, he told reporters while leaving. On November 24, the ED launched searches at ten properties of Sarnaik, Tops Group and its promoter Rahul Nanda and a few others in Mumbai and neighbouring Thane.
“I am fully cooperating with the ED enquiry. The ED officers asked questions and behaved very well during the questioning,” the Sena leader said, adding that he answered all the questions. “If there is any scam or corruption in the Tops Security Services, it should come out and the truth should become public,” Sarnaik said.
Whenever he or his family members are required to appear before the agency, they will appear “within two hours” and the ED need not send him any notice for that, he said. Sarnaik’s son Vihang had been questioned by the ED earlier. The agency last month arrested Amit Chandole, an alleged associate of Sarnaik, and Tops Group Managing Director M Shashidharan under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act.
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The case relates to a complaint lodged by Ramesh Iyyer, a former employee of Tops Group. Iyyer alleged that in 2014, under a contract with the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority for supply of 350 to 500 security guards, the security firm provided only 70 per cent of the agreed number. Some of the money paid by the MMRDA went to private accounts of the accused, he claimed.
The Shiv Sena had called the raids on Sarnaik’s properties “political vendetta”. Sarnaik, 56, represents the Ovala-Maijwada constituency of Thane in the Maharashtra Assembly and is also a spokesperson of his party.