Calcutta/Guwahati, Oct. 7: The CBI today arrested Manoranjana Sinh, estranged wife of former Union minister and senior Congress leader from Assam Matang Sinh, along with businessman Santanu Ghosh in connection with the Saradha scam.
Sources said Sinh and Ghosh were arrested after over four hours of interrogation at the CBI's Salt Lake office in Calcutta today after they reportedly failed to "cooperate" with the officers by suppressing facts.
Matang Sinh was arrested by the CBI on February 1 this year for his alleged involvement in the scam and he is currently in judicial custody.
Manoranjana, whose company GNN Ltd had allegedly received Rs 25 crore from Saradha, was asked to turn up at the CGO complex after CBI officials, scanning the book of accounts of her company, found several irregularities. She was later arrested on charges of criminal conspiracy, cheating and misappropriation of funds in the Saradha Realty case.
Both she and Ghosh will be produced in court tomorrow.
The CBI had grilled Manoranjana in August, within days of conducting a search at her residence. The Enforcement Directorate had also interrogated Manoranjana.
A former journalist, Manoranjana is believed to have told the CBI that she got licence from the NDA government in 2003 for floating the television channel NE TV - through a holding company called Positiv TV.
Matang Sinh was the director of this television company and he subsequently expelled her in 2008.
The CBI claimed that the Sinhs had raised huge loans from banks to set up their broadcast business, which hadn't been fully paid off. While the television business flourished initially, it began incurring losses as competition mounted in subsequent years.
"We are still investigating whether a part of the money received from Saradha's Sudipta Sen was used to pay off the debts," said a CBI official. "But Sarada's money has not been accounted for in clear detail."
Manoranjana has been quite a Facebook buff, updating her status often. Though it did not name anyone, her status following the arrest of her estranged husband read: "some justice at last".
On September 2, she posted: "Feeling nostalgic sitting by the powerful Ma Tripureswari temple at Udaipur, Tripura. Returned to offer prayers here after a gap of seven years!! Much has meanwhile changed in my life ....But as they say all for the very best."
On September 13, she posted: "Now I am at the famous and powerful Thiruttani Lord Murugan temple in Tamil Nadu."
A CBI source said that examination of some emails exchanged between Manoranjana and Sudipta Sen had prima facie revealed her role in the scam.
Manoranjana had incorporated a company called GNN Private Limited in 2009 in which she and her father K.N. Gupta were directors.
"Through that company, she had received a huge amount of money from two Saradha Group companies between 2010 and 2013. She had received around Rs 45 lakh from Saradha Tours and Travels and over Rs 20 crore from Saradha Realty," the source said.
"But surprisingly, despite the payments no share was transferred to the Saradha Group," he said.
According to the source, today Manoranjana tried her best to explain the deal to the CBI officers and stated that share was not given to Sudipta Sen because he did not pay the entire amount. But apparently she failed to convince the interrogators.
The source said that in the agreement between GNN India and Saradha Group, there was no exit clause for Saradha as a result of which the group could not exit the deal even if it wanted to do so.
"The agreement was prepared in such a way that Saradha Group can't exit. She was arrested because she could not give satisfactory answers to the questions posed by the CBI officials about certain grey areas in the deal and also concealed certain vital information," he said.