The Telegraph
 
CIMA Gallary

ED questions Aparna Sen, Bengal minister in Saradha money trail

Calcutta, Aug 18 (PTI): The Enforcement Directorate on Monday questioned West Bengal textiles minister Shyamapada Mukherjee and actor-director Aparna Sen in connection with its money laundering probe in the Saradha chit fund scam.

The first to arrive at the Salt Lake office of the central probe agency here was Aparna Sen. She had been editor of a magazine brought out by the now defunct group.

Her statement was recorded under section 50 of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act. She replied to all questions.

Aparna is understood to have told the ED officials that she knew nothing of the business investments and ponzi schemes run by the group, promoted by Sudipta Sen, now in jail.

The Saradha group is being investigated by many agencies after it defaulted on paying a large number of depositors last year.

The second to be questioned during the day by the ED was Mukherjee, about a property sale in 2009.

A lawyer accompanying the minister, Joydeb Das, said all allegations against him of illegal dealings were baseless. Das said Mukherjee had gone to the ED office to give all relevant details and bank statements in this regard.

The Saradha case involves lakhs of multi-layered transactions and the agency probe has found that “more than 90 per cent of companies existed only on paper and only 17 companies out of the 224 companies actually had carried out some business, the sources said.

The rest, investigators claimed, were floated as ”dummies” to act as cover for unleashing the alleged ponzi scheme.

The latest ED probe report has ascertained that the laundering amount in this case amounts close to Rs 1983.02 crore and it has identified it as “proceeds of crime” as stipulated under the criminal provisions of the PMLA.

Apart from the ED, the others probing Saradha are the Central Bureau of Investigation and the police in West Bengal, Assam and Odisha.