A city court, on Monday, asked officers of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to record the statement of suspended Trinamool Congress Rajya Sabha member Kunal Ghosh for "specific inputs on the involvement of chief minister Mamata Banerjee and Trinamool general secretary Mukul Roy" in the multi-crore Saradha chit fund scam.
The directive came after Ghosh told the court that Mamata Banerjee was the biggest beneficiary of the scam and said that he wanted to give a statement to the CBI in this regard.
Ghosh, former CEO of the Saradha group’s media business, is in judicial custody for nearly a year. He tried to commit suicide in jail last month after claiming that the real architects of the scam were roaming around freely.
“I have specific evidence to expose the involvement of Roy and Banerjee. Both are beneficiaries of Saradha’s media business,” Ghosh told judge Aurobindo Kumar Mishra. “Since I am in judicial custody, I would request you to direct CBI officers to meet me in court lockup or the correctional home so that I can show them documents to prove my point,” he told the judge.
The Saradha scam has turned into a major embarrassment for the chief minister who is being accused by the opposition of trying to shield some of the beneficiaries of the scam.
Ghosh, once close to Banerjee, also attacked transport minister Madan Mitra, arrested recently in connection with the scam and now in hospital under judicial custody. “It has been proved that those who have money and political power can enjoy the luxury of hotel in jail. For ordinary people like me, life in a prison cell is totally different,” Ghosh said.
But Ghosh’s comments sparked off a controversy with opposition leaders like state BJP president Rahul Sinha and state Congress leader Abdul Mannan blaming him for suppressing information.
“I had said earlier that Ghosh has valuable information on the Saradha scam and the involvement of senior Trinamool leaders. But he had denied it all then. Now, after staying in jail for so long, he wants to bring the cat out of the bag. He should be prosecuted for suppressing information,” Mannan said.
Sinha said, “Whatever Ghosh has said about Mitra is true. I would like to request Mitra to not get accustomed to the luxury of a deluxe hospital room. After all, he has to spend a long life in jail.”
The collapse of the Saradha business empire resulted in the loss of crores of rupees for thousands of investors, drawing the attention of all to the vast informal financial sector where companies raise money from the public but do not come under the scrutiny of market regulators.