West Bengal cattle smuggling case: CBI freezes 54 accounts at cooperative bank | Kolkata - Hindustan Times
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West Bengal cattle smuggling case: CBI freezes 54 accounts at cooperative bank

Jan 06, 2023 11:42 AM IST

The agency suspects that these bank accounts were used to siphon off proceeds from the cattle smuggling operation across the India-Bangladesh border

The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on Thursday froze 54 accounts of a cooperative bank at Siuri town in West Bengal’s Birbhum district during a raid in connection with the multi-crore cattle smuggling case, officials of the federal agency said.

Representational image. (AFP Photo)
Representational image. (AFP Photo)

Around 170 accounts at the bank were under scanner and at least 10 crore is suspected to have been siphoned off through these 54 accounts, officials said.

Since most of the accountholders are farmers, CBI officials suspect they were made to sign account opening forms, and did not know how and by whom the accounts were being used.

Anubrata Mondal, president of the Trinamool Congress (TMC) unit in Birbhum district, is the prime suspect in the cattle smuggling case that the Enforcement Directorate (ED) is also probing.

The CBI arrested Mondal on August 11 last year, and named him in their fourth charge sheet filed before the state’s Asansol court on October 7.

Mondal’s former bodyguard, Sehgal Hossain, was arrested by CBI on June 10 and named as a prime accused in the agency’s third charge sheet filed on August 8.

Both are currently in judicial custody. While Hossain is lodged in Delhi’s Tihar jail, Mondal has been kept at the Asansol correctional home in West Burdwan district.

CBI officials have so far traced a large number of bank accounts and properties belonging to Mondal, his daughter Sukanya, and Hossain.

Also Read:TMC heavyweight Anubrata Mondal arrested by ED in cattle smuggling scam

The agency suspects that accounts in the cooperative bank was used to siphon proceeds from the cattle smuggling operation across the India-Bangladesh border.

“The accounts being probed do not belong to residents of Siuri town. They need not worry. We are cooperating with the CBI,” a bank official said on conditions of anonymity.

In October, the CBI asked three banks at Bolpur town, where Mondal lives, to provide details of transactions made by him and his relatives and associates.

The CBI sent notices to Punjab National Bank, State Bank of India and Axis Bank where Mondal, Sukanya, and the other suspects have accounts.

On September 28, a large number of documents kept at the record room of the Bolpur branch of Axis Bank were destroyed in a fire that was suspected to have been caused by an electrical short circuit. CBI officers visited the branch several times since July last year.

Officials from the federal agency said both Mondal and his daughter, who is the director of two companies that are under the scanner, have accounts in Axis bank.

The CBI claimed in its charge sheet against Anubrata Mondal that he is suspected to be linked to 168 land and property deeds executed in or after 2014. At least two dozen of these belong to Mondal, the federal agency suspects, while the remaining 144 registration papers bear the names of his relatives, aides and their kin.

It is suspected that proceeds from cattle smuggling were used to buy these properties.

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