Enforcement Directorate has filed a money laundering case against 12 Trinamool leaders in Narada case
Kolkata: The Enforcement Directorate or ED, which investigates financial crimes, will investigate charges of money laundering against 12 leaders of Mamata Banerjee's Trinamool Congress who have already been named in a case filed by the Central Bureau of Investigation in the Narada sting operation case. The leaders of West Bengal's ruling party are accused of allegedly accepting cash as "illegal gratification" in a sting operation conducted by a Delhi-based news website, Narada News. Earlier this month the Supreme Court said the Central Bureau of Investigation will investigate the charges and criticised Ms Banerjee's effort to stop the premier investigation agency from handling the inquiry.
Here are the latest developments:
The ED has filed its case based on the CBI's First Information Report (FIR) against 13 people, including 12 Trinamool leaders, namely former lawmaker Madan Mitra, lawmakers - Mukul Roy, Sougata Roy, Kakoli Ghosh Dastidar, Aparupa Poddar, Sultan Ahmed and Prasun Banerjee. It also includes top Trinamool ministers Firhad Hakim, Sovan Chatterjee, Subrata Mukherjee, Suvendu Adhikari and party legislator Iqbal Ahmed. The agency will investigate "proceeds of crime" allegedly generated in the case and said it will summon the leaders soon.
The Narada sting tapes showed people accepting cash from a Narada journalist who posed as representatives of a fictitious company seeking favours from the Mamata Banerjee government. The 13th person seen taking money from the journalist is an IPS officer SMH Mirza who says he will pass on the money to a Trinamool leader.
The sting tapes were put on the Narada News website and shown by the BJP at a press conference in Kolkata on 14 March 2016, just ahead of last year's assembly elections, which Mamata Banerjee swept, winning a second term as Chief Minister.
Mamata Banerjee had claimed that the footage is doctored and has alleged a political conspiracy. She has also accused the BJP, which rules at the Centre, of using central agencies to "intimidate" her party as it sets its eyes on expanding its influence in West Bengal.
BJP chief Amit Shah, who toured Bengal this week, has rejected Ms Banerjee's allegation, accusing Ms Banerjee of a "BJP phobia." He said, "There is no conspiracy. They were seen on TV taking money. The entire world can see it."
At a party programme in Kolkata last Friday, Ms Banerjee asked the dozen Trinamool leaders named in the Narada case to stand on stage and said anyone from the Trinamool Congress sent to jail would "return a hero."
Yesterday, two lawmakers of the Trinamool were named in a CBI chargesheet in the Rose Valley ponzi fund case in which small-time investors were cheated of their savings through an unregulated fund. The two MPs, Sudip Bandopadhyay and Tapas Pal, were arrested four months ago and sent to jail in Bhubaneswar. They are both currently in hospital and Ms Banerjee visited them last week.
Former Trinamool minister, Madan Mitra, who is named in the Narada case by both the CBI and ED now, is also accused in the Saradha ponzi case. He is currently out on bail.
The Calcutta High Court has said forensic labs reported that the Narada footage was genuine. Mathew Samuel, editor of Narada News, told court the recordings were done using an iPhone.
The Calcutta High Court had recommended a CBI inquiry saying the state police had acted like "puppets on a string" controlled by the government while investigating the case.