Nawab Malik 'actively' involved in 'terror network of Dawood', claims ED
Mumbai, Feb 23: Maharashtra Minority Affairs Minister Nawab Malik was "actively" involved in terror funding, the ED told a special PMLA court here on Wednesday while seeking his custody following arrest in a money laundering probe linked to the activities of fugitive gangster Dawood Ibrahim and his aides.
The Enforcement Directorate (ED) made this claim while seeking the 62-year-old NCP leader's custody for interrogation in the money laundering probe linked to the activities of Ibrahim and his aides.
Malik was arrested earlier in the day after being questioned for about five hours at the ED office in south Mumbai's Ballard Estate area since around 8 am and later produced before special judge RN Rokade, who remanded him in the ED custody till March 3. The ED case is based on an FIR filed recently by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) against Ibrahim, a fugitive gangster, and others.
The NIA had filed its criminal complaint under sections of the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA). The cabinet minister's statement was recorded under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) and he was arrested under the same provisions as he was "evasive" in his replies, ED officials said.
Malik's alleged links to some property deals with those convicted for the Mumbai bomb blasts are said to be under the radar of the federal probe agency and hence his questioning was necessitated, they said. The ED produced him before the PMLA court and sought his remand for 14 days.
The central agency told the court that interrogation of Malik may reveal crucial facts which are in his exclusive domain. It claimed that Malik, being "the key conspirator and beneficiary of entire charade", may reveal the details of this syndicate.
"In lieu of getting control illegal occupation of this property, he funded a prominent member of D-Gang...the details of this funding needs to be investigated," the probe agency said in its remand application. Further, the ED said the minister's custodial interrogation was necessary as details of other "usurped properties" by the accused and D-Gang might be revealed by the said person (Malik). The ED claimed that for usurping "this property members of D-Gang and Nawab Malik connived together and executed several legal documents to put a facade of genuinity over this criminal act".
During his custodial interrogation, (previously arrested accused) Iqbal Kaskar revealed certain facts about his sister Haseena Parker and her involvement in usurping high-valued properties of innocent citizens in Mumbai by using the clout of D-Gang, it said. In course of the investigation, it was revealed one such victim of the D-Gang is Munira Plumber, the agency said.
Plumber's prime property (having present market value of Rs 300 crore) was usurped by Malik through Solidus Investments, a company owned by the minister's family, with active connivance of members of the D-Gang, including Haseena Parkar, the ED told the court. Plumber, in her statement to the ED, has said she had not sold this property to Malik, the agency said. She came to know through media reports recently that the said property had been sold to a third party. In view of the facts, the role of Malik appears to be crucial for investigation under the PMLA, the ED said. It is also apparent that Malik is guilty of the offence of money laundering as defined under provisions of the PMLA, it said.
Considering his active involvement in "terror funding" and non-cooperation in the investigation, his custodial interrogation was required for further probe in the matter, the central agency told the court.
Earlier, as Malik stepped into the witness box the court asked asked if he has any complaints against the ED. Malik told the court ED officials forcefully took him to their office after detaining him from his residence early this morning. Senior counsel Amit Desai, appearing for Malik, said the property transaction dates back to 1999 when the PMLA was not even in force and it is being used to create an impression that an elected representative of Maharashtra is involved in "anti-national activities".
"If at all Munira Plumber has a grievance against Salim Patel (who was given power of attorney for the property), where is Malik in all this? Malik himself is a victim because a person who didn't have the title to the property sold the property to him," he added. There is nothing that links Malik to any of the allegations made by the ED, he added.
Desai objected to the use of certain words like "terror funding" and "guilty" in the remand application. "There has to be some restrain in the language in the remand application. There has to be some court whose doors we can knock. Somewhere the court has to rise above this. This is not a Hindi movie script, this is the court," he said.
Additional Solicitor General, Anil Singh, appearing for the ED, sought to know if a property bought illegally becomes legal just because so much time has passed? "You are using the property, you want to develop it.Therefore, it is a continuing offence. Nobody knew this act will come in the future cannot be a ground," he said.
Malik raised a clenched fist, smiled and waved towards the waiting media personnel before he was taken away for a medical checkup by agency officials in a vehicle escorted by CRPF personnel and local police. While coming out of the ED office, Malik waved at media persons and said, "Hum jitenge aur ED ke aage nahi jhukenge (we will win and not bow before the ED)". As news of the ED action against Malik spread, his supporters gathered near the ED office and raised slogans against the ED and the Modi government.