All the accused will soon be summoned by the ED for questioning for suspected money-laundering.
Kolkata: After the Central Bureau of Investigation, another Central agency — the Enforcement Directorate — has initiated a money-laundering case against the dozen-odd senior Trinamul Congress leaders accused in the Narada sting operation case, in a double blow to West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee’s party. A top serving IPS officer was also booked in the case.
Sources said the ED registered its case at its Kolkata branch office at the CGO Complex in Salt Lake on April 18, a day after the CBI initiated its FIR in the same case against the 13 accused on the directions of the Calcutta high court. Sources revealed that those booked in the CBI case were also named in the ED case on the basis of the CBI’s FIR.
The politicians booked by the ED are six Trinamul MPs — Sougata Roy, Kakoli Ghosh Dastidar, Sultan Ahmed, Prasun Banerjee, Aparupa Poddar and Mukul Roy; four Trinamul ministers — Sovan Chatterjee, also Kolkata’s mayor, Subrata Mukherjee, Shubhendu Adhikari, caught in the sting when he was an MP, and Firhad Hakim; as well as party MLA Iqbal Ahmed, a brother of MP Iqbal Ahmed, and Saradha chit fund scam accused Madan Mitra, a former Trinamul MLA and minister, sources said.
The accused IPS officer is S.M.H. Meerza, of the state’s 2005 batch, now posted as commanding officer of the West Bengal Armed Police special strike force at Barrackpore, North 24-Parganas. The 13 accused were booked under Section 4 (money-laundering) of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act, sources said, adding that the Central agency may later add more sections if required.
All the accused will soon be summoned by the ED for questioning for suspected money-laundering. The ED will probe what the accused did with the money after being caught accepting cash bribes for favours in the sting. It has already started collecting details of all their assets, properties and bank transactions over the past four years from the income-tax authorities.
The ED also plans to collect the sting footage and other devices and documents from the CBI during its investigations, the sources added.
The Trinamul Congress, already under pressure after the CBI case, is yet to react officially to the ED move. Out of the accused, only Ms Poddar has moved the Calcutta high court challenging the CBI’s FIR, in which she was booked along with the others.
Dashing her hopes, Justice Joymalya Bagchi rejected her plea on Friday and directed her to cooperate with the CBI in its investigation. He also ordered the CBI to submit its case diary at the high court on May 10, and instructed the agency to explain the grounds on which the Trinamul MP was booked in the FIR.