Home / Politics / Policy /  CBI grills Trinamool Congress’s Mukul Roy

Kolkata: Following a four-hour questioning of the Trinamool Congress’s (TMC’s) second-in-command Mukul Roy by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on Friday, federal agencies probing the Ponzi scam in eastern India are closely examining his role in remittance of funds to a Dubai-based asset management firm.

While confirming the development, a CBI officer requested that names not be mentioned immediately in the interest of the investigation. The probe in this direction is at a preliminary stage, he said, asking not to be identified.

CBI and the Enforcement Directorate (ED), another federal agency which probes foreign exchange violations, are trying to unearth where enterprises such as the Saradha Group have stashed the money they had collected from depositors.

From political leaders in West Bengal such as Roy, who is also a Rajya Sabha parliamentarian, the focus has shifted to a Dubai-based asset management company registered in Cayman Islands, a tax haven. According to its website, it invests in emerging markets in stocks, real estate and private companies.

CBI, according to the official cited above, is of the view that funds were remitted to this firm on the advice of a key Trinamool Congress leader who was in 2010-11 its vice-chairman. This person, who heads a diversified conglomerate in India, has since stepped down from its board.

To be sure, the money remitted to Dubai may not have come entirely or at all from the Saradha Group, which is estimated to have defrauded depositors of 2,500 crore. The amount of money remitted to Dubai isn’t immediately known; the beneficiary of this investment is also not clear. All these are under investigation, according to the CBI officer cited above.

In a statement to the media on Friday, Roy said he will be co-operating with the agency and wants the truth to be unearthed. Denying any wrongdoing, Roy said he may be summoned for questioning again.

There is no question of evading the investigating agencies, he said, because he, too, wants CBI to figure where the money has gone.

On his way to the CBI office in Kolkata, Roy was on Friday accompanied by Trinamool Congress lawmaker Sabyasachi Dutta, who had last week stirred up a controversy by saying the party should not interfere in or impede the investigation.

The Trinamool Congress has alleged that the CBI’s investigation into the scam is politically motivated. It even moved the Supreme Court earlier this month, seeking close monitoring of the probe.

The overseas remittance of funds that has now come to light opens a new frontier in the probe, which started early last year under an intervention of the apex court, which ordered CBI to unearth the money trail.

The ED joined the investigation because it was suspected from the beginning that deposits collected by enterprises such as the Saradha Group had been transferred overseas, particularly to tax havens and zero-disclosure jurisdictions.

Several Trinamool Congress leaders are under investigation for allegedly abetting the operations of financial enterprises which ran Ponzi schemes till the middle of 2013. Almost all of them ran aground following the collapse of the Saradha Group in March that year.

Kunal Ghosh, chief executive officer of Saradha Group’s media ventures, was the first Trinamool Congress leader to be arrested. Several others have been arrested by CBI since then, including West Bengal’s sports and transport minister Madan Mitra, who was detained after a brief interrogation in December.

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