ED raids Congress strongman, builder in money laundering scam probe

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Mumbai, May 31 (IANS) The Enforcement Directorate on Wednesday raided offices and residence of Congress’ Maharashtra leader Baba Ziauddin Siddique and builder Rafique Maqbul Qureishi in connection with a Rs 100 crore plus alleged money laundering scam through a slum redevelopment projects, officials said here.

The raids at half a dozen locations follow a first information report registered in 2012 by Mumbai police to probe the Rs 108 crore moneylaundering scam in Jamaat-E-Jamhuriya slum rehabilitation project in Bandra.

The ED has lodged a separate case against Siddique and Qureishi under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act and the raids were carried out to collect more evidence.

The ED is also investigating the role of Qureshi’s company, Pyramid Developers and other suspected shell companies that may have been used to divert funds from the slum project, cleared when Siddique headed the powerful Maharashtra Housing & Area Development Authority (MHADA).

It was alleged that some slum-dwellers in the project had forged documents to avail more than one room in the slum rehabilitation project for which additional Floor Space Index was granted.

The additional flats generated out of this were sold at hefty prices in the open market earning huge profits for the developers.

The Congress reacted sharply to the raids, terming them as “vendetta” politics to divert attention from the government’s failures and scare the opposition.

Congress spokesperson Sachin Sawant said that the state police had probed the case against Siddique and 157 others but found nothing wrong.

“A pattern can be seen in which the opposition is being harassed through the ED or CBI. The government is trying to damage the image and suppress the voice of opposition. We shall not be deterred and keep raising our voice,” he said.

A businessman-turned-politician, Siddique has long been with the Congress, and has been a former municipal councilor, a three-time legislator from Bandra and state minister.

He has been close to late actor-politician Sunil Dutt and his family, including daughter Priya Dutt and son Bollywood actor Sanjay Dutt.

–IANS

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