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Kolkata: The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has sent a notice to the Trinamool Congress, seeking details of its income, expenditure, and the sale of paintings by its chairperson Mamata Banerjee between 2010 and 2014, expanding its probe into ponzi schemes run by the Saradha group and the role of political leaders in this.

The development comes amid allegations from the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) that the Trinamool Congress received donations from companies with hardly any business activities ahead of last year’s general election.

In its filings with the Election Commission of India, the Trinamool Congress said it had received a donation of 1.4 crore from Trinetra Consultant Pvt. Ltd last March.

The firm’s own regulatory filings with the Registrar of Companies show it didn’t qualify to make that donation because it didn’t earn enough in profits. The Trinamool Congress received 11.22 crore in donations through its bank account ahead of last year’s election, according to its own statements, but the source of the rest of the money hasn’t yet been disclosed.

CBI is looking at even prior years, starting from before the Trinamool Congress seized power in West Bengal in 2011, ending the Left Front’s 34-year unbroken rule. Back in 2011, Left leaders had alleged that the Trinamool Congress was being funded by shadowy businessmen who made donations in cash. Rebutted by the Trinamool Congress, these allegations were never investigated.

The poll watchdog and “other state authorities" have already launched a probe into donations made to the Trinamool Congress, according to Mantosh Kumar Yadav, one of the key officials behind Trinetra and other related firms.

“We are co-operating," Yadav had said in a phone interview, adding that he was under instructions not to speak to the media.

A spokesperson for the federal investigating agency refused to comment on the notice sent to the Trinamool Congress, but a key party functionary said the notice was sent to Mukul Roy, a member of the Rajya Sabha and the party’s former general secretary who has lately been ousted from the post. This person asked not to be identified.

Roy, who is currently in Delhi, also refused to comment, saying he wasn’t the general secretary of the party any more.

Partha Chatterjee, the Trinamool Congress’s secretary general and spokesperson, denied receiving any notice from CBI.

Under an order of the Supreme Court, CBI and the Enforcement Directorate—another federal agency, which deals with foreign exchange violations—have been probing companies in eastern India that ran ponzi schemes. They have been focusing on two key enterprises, the Saradha group and Rose Valley, that together collected over 12,000 crore in deposits, according to official estimates of the Union government.

The two agencies have so far been scrutinizing the role of key political leaders—mostly from the Trinamool Congress in West Bengal—in abetting the crime, and if they personally benefited from these companies. The agencies have so far detained several key Trinamool Congress leaders including West Bengal’s transport and sports minister Madan Mitra and Rajya Sabha member Kunal Ghosh, who has since been suspended from the party.

With CBI seeking financial details from the Trinamool Congress, the probe has been expanded to check if the party itself had benefited in any manner from the ponzi operators. Also under the scanner are buyers of chief minister Banerjee’s paintings. She has sold her works and mostly donated the proceeds to her party.

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