CBI notice to BJD MP in Ponzi case

The BJD faced fresh jitters of CBI summons on a day the central agency accused Trinamul Congress MP Sudip Bandyopadhyay of mediating Rose Valley chief Gautam Kundu's payment of Rs 71 lakh to a private school in Calcutta.

By Subhashish Mohanty and Lelin Mallick in Bhubaneshwar
  • Published 10.01.17
Trinamul workers demonstrate outside the CBI office in Bhubaneswar on Monday. Picture by Sanjib Mukherjee

Bhubaneswar, Jan. 9: The BJD faced fresh jitters of CBI summons on a day the central agency accused Trinamul Congress MP Sudip Bandyopadhyay of mediating Rose Valley chief Gautam Kundu's payment of Rs 71 lakh to a private school in Calcutta.

While the Trinamul Congress was at the receiving end for the past few days, the BJD today faced the heat of CBI probe with the central agency serving notice on Balasore MP Rabindra Kumar Jena, asking him to appear before it on January 12.

The CBI is probing Jena's alleged links with money deposit collection company Seashore.

The notice to Jena has created a flutter in the BJD, as some of its leaders are in jail in connection with Ponzi scams. The CBI had earlier grilled Jena on January 13, 2015, and December 10 last year.

The BJD fears that the Opposition might use the incident of Jena's grilling during the campaign for the panchayat polls to dent the party's image.

BJD's Banki MLA Pravat Tripathy and Mayurbhanj MP Ram Chandra Hansdah had been arrested earlier in connection to Ponzi scam. While Tripathy is out on bail, Hansdah continues to be in Jharpada jail since November 2014.

During the earlier interrogation, the CBI wanted to know from Jena about financial transactions that took place between his company Supriti and the Seashore group. The allegation is that Supriti had taken Rs 18 crore in loan from Seashore. Though Jena already explained to the CBI that he had repaid the loan, the agency is far from satisfied and wants to interrogate him again.

Though a senior BJD leader said that the party saw mischief in the fresh summons, he added that they were not afraid.

In the Rose Valley case, the CBI today produced Bandyopadhyay in the court after completion of six days in remand. While pleading for the extension of the Trinamul MP's remand, CBI lawyer Kali Charan Mishra argued that the investigating agency required to extract more information from him to unravel the larger conspiracy behind the money laundering scam.

"So there is need for further interrogation of the accused," he argued while praying for extending the MP's remand by another eight days. The judge remanded Bandyopadhyay to CBI custody for four days.

Defence counsel Sourya Sundar Das, however, argued that the investigating agency had found nothing substantial from the MP.

"Besides the CBI, which is claiming that he had made public speeches to promote the Ponzi firm, is yet to provide any evidence in this regard. He is being falsely implicated in the case," Das told mediapersons outside the court.

Raking up the issue of donation made to the private school in Calcutta, the prosecution said: "If the MP was so keen to donate money to any prestigious educational institute then he should have given it from his own pocket. Why did he help donate money that belonged to investors?"

Defending her husband, Trinamul MLA Nayana Bandopadhyay told reporters: "We are people's representatives and we often make recommendations. My husband is here only because he spoke against demonetisations."

Sources claimed Bandyopadhyay had first recommended admission of Gautam Kundu's son at the school and then followed it up by a formal letter in his pad as a MP. After admission was over, CBI sources said, Kundu ended up donating Rs 71 lakh to the institution.

Outside the court, Trinamul Congress supporters held demonstrations accusing the Centre of unleashing political vendetta against party. They held similar protests outside the court, the CBI office and at the Lower PMG. The party has planned a demonstration tomorrow where senior Trinamul leaders are expected to take part.

Taking on the BJD, state vice-president of the BJP Samir Mohanty said that the ruling party had a tacit understanding with the Trinamul Congress. He said BJD would provide manpower for Trinamul's rally tomorrow. "BJD workers will carry Trinamul flags at the rally," he said.

However, state Trinamul Congress president Arya Gyanendra dismissed the allegation.

"Had that been the case our ministers and MLAs would have got the room in the state guest house instead of having to stay in city hotels."

He said the party had contested 25 Assembly seats in the state last time and was a force in itself.

In another development in Calcutta, police have received a complaint of cheating, criminal breach of trust and criminal conspiracy against Rose Valley group to the tune of Rs 4,11,488 that has been forwarded to the CBI.