West Bengal Textiles minister Shyamapada Mukherjee and actor Aparna Sen were on Monday questioned by the Enforcement Directorate in Kolkata in connection with its money laundering probe in the multi-crore Saradha chitfunds scam case.
The first to arrive at the Salt Lake office of the central probe agency here was the award wining actor and director Sen whose statement was recorded by ED which is probing her role as the Editor of a magazine brought out by the now defunct group.
"Sen's statement was recorded under section 50 of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act.
“She replied to all the queries the sleuths had and has assured she would cooperate with them in future with regard to this case," sources privy to the development said.
She is understood to have told the ED officials that she knew nothing of the business investments and other ponzi schemes run by the group.
Sources said Sen was associated with the magazine that was brought out by the Sudipta Sen-promoted group which is under the scanner of multiple-probe agencies after a large number of depositors last year alleged they have been duped of their hard-earned money through fraud ponzi schemes.
The second to be questioned during the day by the ED was Mukherjee about a property sale in 2009.
"An allegation was raised against Mr Mukherjee that he has raised some capital by way of transfer of some assets.
“All the allegations against him of illegal dealings are baseless and on Monday he has come to give all relevant details and bank statements in this regard to the ED," Joydeb Das, a lawyer accompanying the minister, told PTI.
The Saradha chitfunds case involves lakhs of multi-layered transactions and the agency probe has found that ‘more than 90 per cent of companies existed only on paper and only 17 companies out of the 224 companies actually had carried out some business,’ the sources said.
The rest, investigators claimed, were floated as ‘dummies’ to act as cover for unleashing the alleged ponzi scheme.
The latest ED probe report has ascertained that the laundering amount in this case amounts close to Rs 1983.02 crore (Rs 19.83 billion) and it has identified it as ‘proceeds of crime’ as stipulated under the criminal provisions of the PMLA.
Investigative agencies probing the case including ED, Central Bureau of Investigation, state police departments of West Bengal, Odisha and Assam, have brought under their scanner four companies of the Saradha group which are Saradha Realty Private India Limited, Saradha Tours and Travels Pvt Ltd, Saradha Garden Resort and Hotel Pvt Ltd and Saradha Housing Pvt Ltd as they have been alleged to have mobilised money from the public.
The main accused and Chairman of the Saradha group Sudipta Sen and Trinamool Congress member of Parliament Kunal Ghosh and few others are already under arrest in this case.
Image: Aparna Sen; Photograph: Courtesy Vistaas PR