Trinamool's Derek O'Brien Joins CBI Probe Into Saradha Chit Fund Scam

Mr O'Brien had been summoned to join by the first week of the month but cited his parliamentary responsibilities - he is a Rajya Sabha member - and said he would appear after the end of the monsoon session

Trinamool's Derek O'Brien Joins CBI Probe Into Saradha Chit Fund Scam

Derek O'Brien has often claimed the Saradha scam has been "politicised" by the BJP


Trinamool Congress leader Derek O'Brien was questioned for three hours by the CBI at the investigating agency's Bidhananagar office in Kolkata today, in connection with the Saradha chit fund scam. Mr O'Brien, who arrived at the office at around 1.30 pm, had been asked to appear by the first week of the month but cited parliamentary duties - he is a Rajya Sabha member - and said he would appear after the end of the monsoon session, which was extended by three working days to August 7.

"We are probing certain transactions recorded in the bank accounts of the party's mouthpiece, Jago Bangla. That's why Derek O'Brien has been asked to join the investigation and provide clarifications," a senior CBI official told NDTV last month.

At that time the Trinamool parliamentarian had said he would not be intimidated during his questioning.

"... 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," he said.

The CBI is investigating links between 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.

According to a report by news agency PTI, Mr O'Brien may also be questioned regarding the sale of paintings by party chief Mamata Banerjee that were purchased, for lakhs of rupees, by owners of ponzi scam companies.

Mr O'Brien, who was unsparing in his criticism of the centre over "hurried" passage of key bills, like the contentious legislation to ban 'Triple Talaq', in this parliament session, earlier linked his summons to his party's opposition to amendments to the Right To Information Act

Derek O'Brien, 58, a fierce critic of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, has often claimed the Saradha chit fund scam has been "politicised" by the BJP-led central government to defame Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee.

"Corruption will never stick to Didi's white saree," he remarked earlier this year.

Earlier this month, the Enforcement Directorate summoned six people, including Trinamool MP Satabdi Roy and former member Kunal Ghosh, for questioning in the chit fund scam. Former Kolkata Police Commissioner Rajeev Kumar is also an accused in the case.

The Trinamool government in West Bengal has been dogged by the Saradha chit fund scam, as well as the Rs 17,500-crore Rose Valley scam, for several years now.

The fallout of the scam affected the party's performance in Lok Sabha polls - the ruling party's tally came down from 42 to just 22. The BJP, on the other hand, pushed up its numbers to 18 and, after election results were declared, claimed Ms Banerjee's party would not last till state polls in 2021.

With input from PTI

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