Trinamool MP Tapas Paul arrested in connection with Rose Valley chit fund scam
The Bengali film actor represents the Krishnanagar Lok Sabha constituency.Updated: Dec 30, 2016 21:11 IST
The CBI arrested popular Bengali film star and Trinamool Congress parliamentarian Tapas Paul on Friday for his alleged role in the Rose Valley ponzi scheme, which is charged with defrauding depositors to the tune of Rs 17,000 crore.
The two-time Lok Sabha MP for Krishnanagar in West Bengal was a board member of Rose Valley Marketing India Ltd and Idea Projects Ltd — two companies of the group — for brief periods over two financial years since 2009. He allegedly accepted money in cash and cheques, details of which are being probed.
The 58-year-old actor-politician was questioned since morning at the CBI’s office in a Kolkata suburb before his arrest.
The agency’s action attracted a swift response from the Trinamool, which has maintained that Paul was a brand ambassador of Rose Valley and was innocent of its financial deals.
“A lot of BJP leaders enjoyed hospitality offered by Rose Valley. They include Babul Supriyo (Union minister of state for heavy industries) and Rupa Ganguly (a BJP MP from Bengal). Many BJP leaders have accepted money from Rose Valley. Why don’t you find out who gave the company permission to launch a TV channel?” alleged West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee.
She said more leaders from her party could be arrested.
The opposition BJP countered that the chief minister was belligerently opposing the notes recall to divert attention from the scams in which several top Trinamool leaders have been charged with wrongdoing.
The BJP said the arrest was overdue. “This was bound to happen … There is another MP who did not turn up at the CBI office fearing he too will be arrested,” said Dilip Ghosh, the BJP state president.
He was referring to Trinamool parliamentarian Sudip Bandyopadhyay, who too was summoned for questioning along with Paul.
The Trinamool tried to pay in the same coin. State education minister Partha Chatterjee alleged that Paul’s arrest was part of the Centre’s strategy to distract the people from his party’s campaign against the demonitisation drive, which chief minister had described as a “mega-scam”.
The Rose Valley scandal is seven times bigger than the similar, Rs 2,460-crore Saradha scam.
The West Bengal-based group allegedly robbed millions of investors, most of them from the low-income group, in at least 10 states by promising exaggerated returns. The little-known group’s firms operated unlicenced financial schemes that escaped regulators’ scrutiny.
The group was into real estate, films, media, jewellery, hotels and resorts.
Rose Valley owner Gautam Kundu and several officials are behind bars for the past one year.
CBI officials said Paul was not cooperating with the investigators and hiding facts. He has been under the agency’s lens for some time, and two of the homes in south Kolkata were searched in March last year.
Paul made headlines in 2014 when he was caught on camera provoking his supporters to kill rival CPI(M) workers and rape their women. He was censured by Banerjee, but let off lightly after he apologised for his “emotional outburst”.