A government agency that tracks corporate frauds has called for a CBI probe against West Bengal sports minister Madan Mitra and Kolkata Police chief Surajit Kar Purkayastha, among others in the multi-crore Saradha scandal.
In its 516-page report, accessed by HT, the serious fraud investigation office (SFIO), has recommended that the CBI “take further action” on allegations against Mitra, a close aide of chief minister Mamata Banerjee, and Purakayasta.
An investigative arm of the ministry of corporate affairs, the SFIO based its report on depositions of suspended Trinamool Congress Rajya Sabha MP Kunal Ghosh , who is behind bars.
“While the evidence is not sufficient to frame any charge, however, since the CBI is looking into the larger conspiracy angle of the Saradha scam, it is recommended that the matter be referred to CBI for necessary investigation and further action at its end,” says the report.
Ghosh has submitted some pictures that show Mitra and Purakayasta at various Saradha group events. Also, Ghosh “has affirmed that very high profile personalities drawn from politics and bureaucracy were associated with the Saradha group publicly and shared stage with Sudipta Sen”, says the report.
Moreover, Saradha group chairman Sen, who has since been arrested, claimed that he had bought a Ferrari for Mitra’s son while Mitra allegedly took money from Sen to repair temples in his constituency and to hold a football match, involving Argentine soccer star Lionel Messi.
When reached for comments, Mitra said, “I won’t tell you anything. If some investigative agency summons me, I shall tell them. I’m ready to face any investigation.” Purakayastha did not respond to HT’s calls or text messages."I can’t make any comments. Moreover, I haven’t seen the report you are referring to. I haven’t seen such reports anywhere, and they hardly have any credibility," Bengal health minister Subrata Mukherjee said.
The report also recommends further CBI probe against a former Doordarshan director general and former Bengal top cop Rajat Majumdar, who has been arrested.
Last year, the Centre ordered a multi-agency probe into the activities of Kolkata-based Saradha group of companies in a scandal involving around `20,000 crore. The company’s promoters and top executives were accused by angry investors of creating a web of companies across several states in eastern India to dupe small depositors.
Its flagship company, Saradha Realty, collected `2,459 crore from hundreds of thousands of people, promising astronomical returns. It didn’t return the maturity value to the investors and closed down its offices without paying employees. The group went bust in April 2013.
From Assam, former Union minister Matang Sinh and former state transport minister Anjan Dutta are among those whose names figured in the list sent by the SFIO to the CBI for “necessary investigation and further action”.
Sinh was not available for comments. But Dutta said, “It was a completely business deal. I am a victim. His (Sen’s) cheque for `3.5 crore has been dishonoured. I have given all the evidence to the CBI.”
Besides the SFIO, the CBI and the Enforcement Directorate are also investigating the scandal.