Calcutta, Aug. 23: The CBI tonight arrested Sandhir Agarwala, son of city tea merchant Sajjan Agarwala, in the Saradha case three days after taking de facto East Bengal boss Debabrata Sarkar alias Nitu into custody.
Agency spokesperson Kanchan Prasad said in Delhi that Sandhir had been booked on the same charges as Sarkar: criminal conspiracy, cheating and misappropriation.
Sandhir and Sajjan found mention in the purported letter Saradha chief Sudipta Sen wrote to the CBI shortly before his arrest last year, but their names were misspelled as “Sandip” and “Sajan”. At the time, many had suspected the letter was a “red herring” to throw investigators off track.
The letter says Sarkar had in 2010 promised to “cover” Sen’s problems with market watchdog Sebi with the help of some people including “Mr Sajan Agarwal and his son Sandip Agarwal” if Sen paid him well enough.
“In total Nitu along with Sajan Agarwal, Sandip Agarwal son of Sajan Agarwal took Rs 40 crores for last three years, and one of his relatives Mr Jash staying at Mumbai probably Rajasthani guy started the business utilising of this money,” the letter says.
“I met Sajan Agarwal in his AJC Bose Road office near Exide. He is a tea merchant and his son and he himself are well connected with central political leaders and Sajan Agarwal confessed me that he takes Rs 20 lacs per month for managing the SEBI Mumbai office. There are lot of circumstantial evidence that will prove that Nitu and Sajan Agarwal have taken the money.”
Sandhir, among the five partners in Kamala Tea Co. Limited along with his father, was questioned yesterday and today. The CBI is likely to seek his custody tomorrow.
A CBI officer said the arrest could help probe the larger conspiracy and money trail in the deposit-collection racket that is suspected to involve senior politicians.
Sajjan is likely to be questioned tomorrow, the officer said. So is former director-general of Bengal police Rajat Majumder, who was quizzed for seven hours today on the possible involvement of politicians.
Agency sources said another retired IPS officer, who used to be a deputy police commissioner in Calcutta and briefly looked after the group’s “security”, might be questioned.
Kamala Tea was registered in March 1914.
The number of people arrested in the case is now eight.