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CBI stepping stone: investor

Calcutta, May 14: The CBI will begin its probe into the Saradha scam by studying the complaint of an investor that had been cited by Bengal police last month to break open a bank locker jointly held by Sudipta Sen and his second wife Piyali.

“The case diary and the documents seized are vital for our probe into the Saradha scam in Bengal,” a CBI officer said yesterday.

On the basis of investor Mallika Chatterjee’s complaint that she had been duped of Rs 6.14 lakh, Bengal police had opened the bank locker on the night of April 21 apparently to thwart the central Enforcement Directorate, which had arrested Piyali. The cops had also issued notices to CPM leaders Gautam Deb and Sujan Chakraborty telling them to appear in a police station in connection with case No. 102, lodged by Chatterjee.

CBI sources said the agency was emphasising on Chatterjee’s complaint to probe the “larger conspiracy” the Supreme Court had referred to.

Wondering why the Saradha case should not be handed over to the CBI, the Supreme Court had on April 9 said the “entire system” in Bengal seemed to have “crumbled” under the Saradha default conspiracy, adding “there is a larger conspiracy with political overtones”. Days later, the court handed over the Saradha probe to the CBI.

On May 6, 2013, investor Chatterjee had lodged the complaint mentioning that she had invested Rs 6.14 lakh in Saradha Realty, Saradha Tours and Travels and Saradha Gardens Resorts and Hotels.

The investigating officer of case No. 102 had been changed thrice. Saradha chief Sen and two other accused — Narottam Dutta and Somnath Dutta — have obtained bail in the case.

Chatterjee said yesterday: “It’s been over a year (since the complaint) and I have never been questioned by the SIT (special investigation team) in Bengal. I would be too happy to speak to the CBI and tell the officers how lakhs of depositors like me have been duped.”

The CBI sources said the agency would re-examine cases in which the Bengal SIT had submitted chargesheets and send officers across Bengal and neighbouring Odisha to study complaints related to the default scam.

Among the cases in which chargesheets have been submitted is the complaint lodged by Trinamul Lok Sabha candidate Arpita Ghosh, alleging that she had not been paid her salary as an employee of a Saradha channel that never went on air.

Over the next two weeks, the SIT set up by the CBI to probe the Saradha case would fan out to Bengal and Odisha to collect related documents from other investigating agencies. “After that, an action plan for registering FIRs will be chalked out,” the CBI officer said.

The CBI sources said the agency would seek the custody of Sen and his aide Debjani Mukherjee.