KOLKATA: The CBI, in coordination with the Enforcement Directorate, has more or less finalised lists of politicians, bureaucrats, present and former IPS officers from four States in eastern and northeastern regions whom they want to interrogate and, on the basis of evidence collected so far, arrest for their involvement in `2,500-crore Sharada ‘chit fund’ scam.
Other than Assam, Tripura and Odisha, a majority of these people are from West Bengal as Sharada Group chairman Sudipto Sen had his headquarters in this metropolis and was close to several ruling Trinamool Congress leaders. Some of them are ministers in the State and MPs.
The lists were drawn up on the basis of Sen’s first 18-page letter to the CBI in April just before he fled to Sonemarg in Kashmir, in which he had complained about some politicians and television channel owners. He had mentioned former Assam minister Himanata Biswa Sharma, who had recently led a revolt against Chief Minister of the State, Tarun Gogoi. The sleuths have already questioned former minister of state in PMO Matang Singh and his ex-wife Manoranjana Singh, both of whom separately own television channels and had taken money from Sen. Manoranjan Singh had introduced him to Nalini Chidambaram saying she was wife of the then uion home minister P Chidambaram and would ensure his protection, he wrote.
Sen also stated that he paid `6 crore to another rebel Congress legislator in Assam Anjan Datta, who owns an Assamese newspaper, and alleged that the owner of DY 365 television channel Sanjiv Jaiswal blackmailed him. Sen, who is in jail along with suspended TMC Rajya Sabha MP Kunal Ghosh, his close associate Debjani Mukherjee and four others, are being interrogated by the CBI and ED practically every day.
Before the Supreme Court handed over the Sharada case on May 9, the ED had registered cases of money laundering and began its investigation. While lakhs of depositors had been duped in this scam, 73 persons, including depositors and agents of the ‘chit fund’, have committed suicide.
The CBI on Monday discovered that Sen had financed a documentary propaganda film for the TMC in 2011 just before the state assembly polls in which filmmakers and voice artists close to the party had worked. Sen told the sleuths that he had paid the expenses for the film since many top TMC leaders, who were then in opposition in West Bengal, had directed him as it was conceived by a famous painter close to the party.
However, since some couplets from a particular minority religion were used in the film called “Poribartoner Shapath” (Promise for Change), the poll commission did not allow its telecast. The CBI and ED have also discovered that `730 crore, which Sen had entrusted with many politicians and former police officers, could not be traced and through their interrogations it might be tracked.
Sen had also employed several retired IPS officers with huge salaries and had taken them on his trips abroad. The CBI found that an e-mail to the central agency after Sen went underground was sent from one IP address belonging to a former DG of West Bengal police who used to work for the Sharada group. The CBI has written to the MHA seeking permission to interrogate a senior bureaucrat and two IPS officers in West Bengal. Soon summons would be issued to retired bureaucrats and IPS officers.