MUMBAI: Enforcement Directorate (ED) on Tuesday arrested former managing director of private security firm, Tops Grup, M Sasidharan, in a money-laundering case they are investigating allegedly involving Shiv Sena MLA Pratap Sarnaik.
ED officials learnt that Tops Grup chairman Rahul Nanda’s daughter Rasshi Nanda was directing the company employees, including Sasidharan, to destroy the case-related evidence and computer data from their offices.
The ED produced Sasidharan before a special court on Tuesday, which remanded him to ED custody till Friday.
Meanwhile, the ED has issued the third summons to Sarnaik for him to be present for questioning on Thursday.
Sasidharan is the second person to be arrested in the ED case after Amit Chandole, a close associate of Sarnaik. It is alleged Sasidharan’s office coordinated with Chandole about the kickbacks his company was accused of paying to Sarnaik.
On November 24, the ED had carried out raids at several premises of Sarnaik in a money-laundering case registered against Tops Grup, Nanda and others. The case is based on a Mumbai police FIR registered in October, alleging the private security firm had cheated state agency MMRDA, which had awarded it a contract in 2014 to provide security guards for foot-overbridges in the city. The ED has alleged Sarnaik has been receiving Rs 6 lakh in cash every month as “kickbacks” from the firm through Chandole.
ED officials confronted Sasidharan about MMRDA’s contract with Tops Grup. A source said, “Sasidharan was part of the criminal conspiracy and he was actively involved in the MMRDA deal along with Nanda. He was a close associate of Nanda and was part of the deal where Tops Grup assured monthly payment to Sarnaik from MMRDA’s earnings.”
Last week, Sasidharan had filed a cheating case against former director of Tops Grup Ramesh Iyer with Mumbai Police on behalf of Rahul Nanda. In October, Iyer had filed a cheating case with the police against Nanda, Sasidharan and others for defrauding MMRDA. Mumbai police transferred both cases to its Economic Offences Wing (EOW) for further investigations.
Among the two cases with EOW, Iyer is a complainant in one case, but named as an accused in the second one. A police officer said Iyer was not traceable. He is a key witness in the ED case as their money-laundering case is based on his complaint against Nanda. Iyer has provided the ED crucial information related to the MMRDA deal along with the profit-sharing arrangement between Tops Grup and Sarnaik through Chandole.
In his statement to ED, Iyer said Sarnaik had helped Tops Grup get the MMRDA contract. Iyer and Amar Panghal, ex-finance director of Tops Grup, told ED officials the security firm was providing less than 70 % of the total guards, but had been billing MMRDA for the total number of guards mentioned in the agreement.
In his statement to the Enforcement Directorate, Neeraj Bilani, ex-CEO of Tops Grup, said said Chandole used to coordinate with the finance department of his company to collect the kickbacks on behalf of Sarnaik.