The enforcement Directorate Monday questioned National award winning filmmaker Aparna Sen and West Bengal Bengal Textiles Minister Shyamapada Mukherjee in connection with its money laundering probe in the multi-crore Saradha financial scam.
Sen, who was first to reach the central probe agency’s Salt Lake office accompanied by her husband Kalyan Roy, was grilled for more than five hours and her statement was recorded. The ED is probing her role as the editor of a woman’s magazine, Paroma, that was launched by the now bust Saradha Group in 2011.
Sources in the ED said Sen was questioned about some financial transactions. They said Sen had received Rs 75 lakh as remuneration from Saradha for the 11-month period she served as the editor of Paroma. The magazine was shut down in 2013.
“Sen’s statement was recorded under Section 50 of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA). 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.
Later, talking to reporters Sen, said she told the ED officials that she knew nothing of the business investments and other ponzi schemes run by the Saradha Group. She also said she was never involved in any monetary transactions in her capacity as the editor of Paroma.
Sen is the second film personality to be summoned by the ED after actor-turned Trinamool Congress MP Mithun Chakraborty was questioned over a transaction of Rs 2 crore that was released from a Saradha bank account into his account. Chakraborty was questioned in Mumbai.
The second person to be questioned during the day was state Textile Minister Shyamapada Mukherjee. “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 today he gave all the relevant details and bank statements in this regard to the ED,” Joydeb Das, a lawyer accompanying the minister said.
Mukherjee, who became the first minister of Mamata Banerjee’s cabinet to be interrogated by the ED in the scam, claimed he had no links with Saradha Group except that in 2009, he sold some land in Bankura to the group.
However, sources said, it was learnt that Mukherjee had sold a loss making cement company to Saradha CMD Sudipta Sen .
The latest ED probe report has ascertained that the laundering amount in this case amounts close to Rs 1983.02 crore and it has identified it as “proceeds of crime” as stipulated under the criminal provisions of the PMLA. (With PTI inputs)