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ED arrests Sanjay Raut in money laundering case

The Enforcement Directorate has arrested Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut in a money laundering case linked to alleged irregularities in the redevelopment of a Mumbai ‘chawl’, officials said.

Mr. Raut, 60, was arrested after over six hours of questioning at the ED’s zonal office in south Mumbai’s Ballard Estate.

He has been taken into custody at 12:05 a.m. on Monday under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) as he was not cooperating in the probe, the officials claimed.

Mr. Raut will be produced before a special PMLA court in Mumbai later in the day, where the Enforcement Directorate will seek his custody.

On Sunday, the ED detained Mr. Raut, a close confidant of Sena president Uddhav Thackeray, amid high drama after conducting raids on the MP’s Mumbai residence early in the morning.

Mr. Raut was taken in custody after a marathon nine hours of quizzing by the ED authorities at his bungalow ‘Maitri’ in Mumbai’s Bhandup area.

The MP is being investigated by the ED in connection with a money laundering case linked to alleged irregularities involving the re-development of Mumbai ‘Patra chawl.’

Mr. Raut’s lawyer, however, said the ED had not found any document related to the alleged Patra chawl scam and that the MP was going to the ED’s office in response to the agency’s “summons”.

Soon after the agency authorities knocked his doors at 7 a.m. on Sunday, Mr. Raut, in a series of tweets, denied any wrongdoing while stressing he was being targeted in an instance of political vendetta.

“I swear by the late Balasabheb Thackeray [Shiv Sena founder] that I have nothing to do with any scam. I will die but won’t leave Shiv Sena,” he said.

Under the ED’s scanner since April this year, Mr. Raut had skipped the agency’s summons twice in recent days (the latest being issued on July 27) while stating he could appear only after August 7 owing to the Parliament being in session.

The Sena MP, known for his acerbic speeches and sharp-tongued harangues, maintained a defiant mien en route to the ED’s office in Mumbai.

While tearful family members (including wife Varsha) watched the MP’s departure, Mr. Raut, wearing a saffron flag and waving to his supporters who gathered outside his bungalow, appeared unruffled.

“The ED has no proof against me. Everyone knows this is an attempt to suppress my voice. The manner in which false evidence is being cooked up against me is to solely weaken the ​Shiv Sena and Maharashtra. But neither entity is so weak… I will not bow before anyone but keep on fighting and never leave the Sena,” vowed Mr. Raut, remarking that the Eknath Shinde camp (rebel Sena MLAs) ought “to be ashamed of themselves.”

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