Monday, 30th October 2017

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Saradha poser for secretary Atri Bhattacharya

The CBI had earlier written letters to the state seeking the files

By TT Bureau in Calcutta
  • Published 23.08.19, 2:14 AM
  • Updated 23.08.19, 2:14 AM
  • a min read
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Atri Bhattacharya Telegraph picture

The CBI on Thursday recorded the statement of Bengal tourism secretary Atri Bhattacharya over the use of state funds to pay the salaries of two Saradha TV channels.

Officers from the CBI’s Economic Offence Wing spent over two-and-a-half hours speaking to Bhattacharya, one of the senior-most IAS officers in the state, in his office. This is the first time the CBI spoke to an IAS officer in the case. Bhattacharya was then secretary of the information and cultural affairs department, which had cleared the funds.

“They spoke to him on details of the process in which nearly Rs 6 crore was spent from the chief minister’s relief fund to give salaries to the employees of Tara Newz and Tara Muzic, which were owned by the Saradha Group,” said a source. Bhattacharya was not available for comment.

Promoted by Sudipto Sen, the Saradha Group had rolled out several ventures, especially in the media, but these ran into problems after the deposit firm collapsed in April 2013.

“The proposal to shoulder the burden of employees’ salaries of the two TV channels was moved by the information and cultural affairs department. The central agency wanted to know what prompted him to move the file,” said a source.

The CBI had earlier written letters to the state seeking the files. “The investigating agency found several inconsistencies. That’s the reason it wanted to get a clear idea on the decision,” said a source.

After Saradha’s collapse, chief minister Mamata Banerjee had announced takeover of the channels and Rs 16,000 each to the staff per month as pay on humanitarian grounds.