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Money laundering: Ex-MLA arrested by Enforcement Directorate

Mumbai: The Enforcement Directorate (ED) has arrested former Maharashtra MLA Vivekanand S. Patil in a money laundering case linked to an alleged fraud of over Rs 512 crore in a Panvel-based cooperative bank, officials said on Wednesday. During his questioning at the ED office in the Ballard Estate area on Tuesday night, 66-year-old Patil was arrested by investigators from the central probe agency around 8:15 pm.

According to the police, the ex-MLA from the Peasants and Workers Party was arrested under sections of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) and is scheduled to be brought before a local court for further custody. An FIR filed by the Navi Mumbai police economic offenses wing (EOW) in February last year alleged irregularities totaling Rs. 512 crore, leading to an ED money laundering case against him and about 75 others.

A 54 crore investment has been made in the Karnala Nagari Sahakari (cooperative) Bank in the Raigad district neighboring Pune. Patil, the former chairman of the cooperative bank who represented Panvel in the past, was named an accused, along with the vice-chairperson, chief executive officer, and several others who had obtained loans from it. According to the police, the irregularities were discovered when the Reserve Bank of India investigated the bank’s operations. The RBI later restricted withdrawals to Rs 500 per depositor across all accounts. Police had filed charges in its FIR, including criminal breach of trust and cheating under provisions of the Indian Penal Code, Cooperative Societies Act, and Maharashtra Protection of Depositors Act.

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The bank is stated to have been established in 1996 under the Cooperative Bank Act after RBI issued a license to Vivekananad Patil. Thousands of depositors have been left in a lurch after this scam by Patil and his aides came to light. It will be a wait-and-watch situation for the depositors as the ex-MLA from Panvel will be produced before court.

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