CBI readies chargesheet of Sarada scam as Bengal polls knock on door

With prominent Trinamool leaders being accused in the Sarada chit-fund scam and Narada sting operation case, BJP, may use the issues to attack the Mamata Banerjee-led government in the upcoming Assembly polls

Sunny Kalra, bank loan fraud, PNB, Punjab National Bank, CBI
According to CBI sources, the draft of the final chargesheet in the Saradha scam sent to the agency’s New Delhi headquarters had names of 20 influential persons close to the state’s ruling dispensation. File photo: PTI

The CBI is close to filing a final chargesheet in the multi-crore Saradha ponzi scam and also started the registration of 102 pending non-Saradha ‘chit-fund’ cases, aiming to finish the process by this year.

The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) is also hopeful of soon getting the requisite sanction from the Lok Sabha Speaker to prosecute three sitting Trinamool Congress (TMC) MPs in the Narada sting operation case.

“As per our information, the Lok Sabha secretariat a few months ago sent our request to prosecute the MPs to the law ministry for its opinion,” said CBI sources.

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The CBI had sent requests and several reminders to the Lok Sabha secretariat, seeking the Speaker’s permission to prosecute the lawmakers. The last request was sent in November 2019.

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The sudden momentum that the investigation into the long-pending cases is getting indicates that the spotlight will be back on graft charges against Trinamool Congress leaders in the run up to the next year’s assembly elections.

According to CBI sources, the draft of the final chargesheet in the Saradha scam was sent to the agency’s New Delhi headquarters recently. It reportedly contained names of 20 influential persons close to the state’s ruling dispensation.

The final chargesheet would be filed after the legal department of the agency finished scrutinising the draft, the sources said.

The Saradha scam was a major financial fraud and political scandal that came to the fore in 2013 after the company collapsed, ruining life savings of millions of people across West Bengal, Assam, Tripura, Jharkhand, Odisha and other states.

Through its ponzi schemes, the company had reportedly mopped up more than ₹15,000 crore.

Former TMC parliamentarians Kunal Ghosh and Srinjoy Bose, former state minister Madan Mitra, former director general of police Rajat Majumdar were among some of the prominent personalities arrested for their involvement in the scam.

Several other prominent personalities of the state including former TMC MP and now BJP leader Mukul Roy, former Kolkata police commissioner Rajeev Kumar, among others, were grilled by the CBI in connection with the scam.

In his recent virtual rally for West Bengal, held earlier this month, BJP leader and home minister Amit Shah raised the issue of Saradha chit-fund and Narada cases to attack the TMC government.

The CBI sources are expecting to get the go-ahead from the speaker within a few months to prosecute TMC MPs Saugata Roy, Prasun Banerjee and Kakoli Ghosh Dastidar.

In the sting operation, many TMC leaders were purportedly seen accepting bribes to provide favours to a company.

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Apart from these two cases, the CBI is also expediting probe into other ‘chit-fund’ cases in the state.

CBI director Rishi Kumar Shukla on February 24 gave the nod to the bureau’s Kolkata branch to register the 102 pending chit-fund cases in a bid to complete the process by this year itself. Accordingly, the agency started filing the FIR in these cases with renewed vigour. Sources said, this month alone, the premier investigating agency has booked around 30 individuals and a few companies in about 10 cases.

Generating further hit on the Mamata Banerjee-led TMC government, the Enforcement Directorate too recently summoned four senior bureaucrats in connection with the alleged anomalies in the Metro Dairy’s share transactions between the state government and a private dairy company Keventer.

The ED started investigation into the case last year after Congress leader Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury filed a PIL in the Calcutta high court alleging anomalies in the disinvestment process.

 

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