Trinamool Congress (TMC) MP Derek O'Brien on Saturday said he has informed the Central Bureau of Investigation that he would appear before the agency, which has summoned him in the Saradha ponzi scheme case, after the Parliament session ends on August 7, and asserted that he would not be intimidated.
The Rajya Sabha MP, who is also a spokesperson of West Bengal's ruling party, was asked to appear before a CBI team in the first week of August, officials said on Friday.
'Earlier, when Parliament was in session I was served a notice. I immediately wrote to the CBI stating that since Parliament was in session I would appear on a date after the session has concluded,' O'Brien said in a statement.
'However, a day before I was supposed to meet the CBI, they called and informed me that I am not required to meet them. I also sent them a letter reconfirming the same,' the Rajya Sabha member said.
'Since February, I have not received any intimation from them. Now, during this Parliament session, I was served a notice asking me to appear before them on August 1. I have sent them a letter stating that I would meet them after this session is over on August 7,' O'Brien said.
Officials had Friday said the quizmaster-turned-politician may be questioned by the CBI about some financial transactions in the bank accounts related to TMC mouthpiece Jago Bangla, of which he is the publisher.
The CBI is investigating links of arrested Bengali film producer Shrikant Mohta to the promoters of Rose Valley, a company accused in the scam.
Mohta had allegedly cut a deal of Rs 25 crore with the promoters of Rose Valley and a portion of this money is suspected to have been diverted in Jago Bangla account.
'Let me also add that I will not be intimidated. In February, I had agreed to appear before the CBI after the session was over, but the CBI chose not to meet me. This time too I am ready to meet them,' O'Brien said.
TMC secretary general Partha Chatterjee alleged that the CBI was being used by the Bharatiya Janata Party to intimidate political opponents.
"We won't be intimidated by central agencies. The CBI and other agencies are being used to pursue political vendetta," Chatterjee said.
BJP state president Dilip Ghosh termed the allegations as baseless.
"The TMC is the only party which alleges political vendetta if they are summoned by the CBI. But when leaders of other parties are summoned, they don't make such allegations.
"Those who have looted public money need to answer to the public," Ghosh told PTI.
The CBI may also question O'Brien regarding the sale of several paintings of party chief Mamata Banerjee which were purchased by owners of several ponzi scam companies allegedly at a huge price, the officials said.
Several such paintings worth lakhs of rupees have been seized by the agency, they said.
O'Brien, in a tweet on Friday, had alleged that the CBI notice was sent as his party had opposed amendments to the Right to Information Act in Parliament.
The July 25 notice coincided with the TMC's motion against theI (Amendment) Bill in Rajya Sabha, he claimed.
The Supreme Court had ordered a probe into the multi-crore-rupee Saradha scam and transferred the case to CBI in 2014.
Thousands of investors were left in the lurch by the scam and it led to the arrest of many leaders and ministers of the TMC. All of them are now out on bail.
Saradha group founder Sudipta Sen and his associate Debjani Mukherjee, arrested in 2013 from Kashmir, are in custody.