Shiv Sena MP Bhavana Gawali skips appearance before ED

Mumbai, Oct 20 (PTI):
Shiv Sena MP Bhavana Gawali on Wednesday skipped appearing before the Enforcement Directorate here for questioning in a money laundering case, saying she is unwell due to chikungunya infection.
The agency had issued summons to the 48-year-old MP for Wednesday during which her statement was supposed to be recorded.
Her lawyer told reporters that they have submitted a medical certificate to the investigating officer of the case that stated her illness and have sought exemption from appearance for about a fortnight. Gawali is a sitting Lok Sabha member from the Yavatmal-Washim constituency in Maharashtra.
She was first summoned by the agency to appear on October 4, but she sought adjournment and a new date citing work commitments. The agency in September had arrested her aide Saeed Khan in the criminal case filed under the provisions of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA).
The ED, while taking the custody of Khan, claimed before a special PMLA court that Gawali criminally conspired to convert a trust into a private company through Khan by “forgery and fraud” for layering of funds worth around Rs 18 crore.
It is understood that the agency wants to question Gawali about her links with Khan and the trust identified as ‘Mahila Utkarsha Pratishthan’ and related transactions.
Gawali’s advocate told reporters that she herself has been a complainant in this case and has filed a police FIR in which charge sheet has also been filed.
The ED had told the court that its investigation done so far suggested that misappropriation of funds to the tune of Rs 18.18 crore and theft of Rs 7 crore (cash) have been layered.
The agency said the trust filed for conversion into a Section 8 company by alleged fraudulent forgery of signatures of the management and documents from public institutions.
The total assets of Rs 69 crore in the book value (of the trust) were transferred to the newly formed Section 8 company limited, the agency told the court.
The Companies Act defines Section 8 company as one whose objective is to promote fields of arts, commerce, science, research, education, sports, charity, social welfare, religion, environment protection, or other similar objectives.
The directors of this company, as per the ED, are Khan and Shalinitai Gawali, the mother of the Sena MP. Bhavana Gawali along with the two is stated to be a member of this company.
“It is stated that Bhavana Gawali, through her aide Saeed Khan, Shergul Khan and his accomplices have criminally conspired to convert the Trust ‘Mahila Utkarsha Pratishthan’ into a Section 8 company through forgery and fraud for the purpose of layering the trust fund,” the ED had said.
Initial probe shows that there is a huge cash deposit and the withdrawal of bigger amounts from the account of the trust maintained at the Risod Urban cooperative society.
Then branch manager of Risod Urban cooperative society in his statement stated that the society was not entitled to receive a cash deposit of more than Rs 3 lakh.

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