The Enforcement Directorate has issued fresh summons to Narada news CEO Mathew Samuel in its money laundering probe, initiated after a sting operation purportedly showed several TMC leaders, including MPs and ministers, taking money. Samuel was first summoned by the central probe agency to depose on May 18 at its office in Kolkata. However, officials said, he informed the agency that he would not be able to appear in person due to some medical condition and requested them to question him at his present location in Kerala.
Hence, Samuel has been asked to meet the investigating officer (IO) of the case on May 24 at its office in Kochi in Kerala, the officials said. The ED has asked him to carry along documents relating to his personal finances, those of the news channel and material related to the purported sting operation, they said. Samuel is not an accused in the ED FIR, called the Enforcement Case Information Report (ECIR), and the agency wants to quiz him to get information about the sting and circumstances in which it was carried out.
Samuel has been quizzed by the CBI in this case earlier. CBI too is probing the case separately on charges of corruption. The agency had registered a criminal compliant in this case last month under the provisions of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) after studying the CBI FIR. It will probe the proceeds of crime generated in this case. While the CBI’s criminal FIR had been registered against 12 TMC leaders and an IPS officer, the ED FIR has been booked against 14 entities that include a category of unidentified persons apart from the 13 in the CBI compliant, they said.
The sting operation pertains to the filming of the TMC leaders and the IPS officer while they allegedly accepted money from the representatives of a fictitious company for extending favours to it. The TMC leaders against whom the CBI has registered the FIR, now also booked by the ED, include Rajya Sabha MP Mukul Roy, Lok Sabha MPs– Saugata Roy, Aparupa Poddar, Sultan Ahmed, Prasun Banerjee and Kakoli Ghosh Dastidar.
West Bengal ministers including Urban Development Minister Firhad Hakim, Transport Minister Suvendu Adhikari, Environment Minister Sovan Chatterjee, Panchayati Raj and Rural Development Minister Subrata Mukherjee have also been named in the FIR. Former Minister Madan Mitra, MLA Iqbal Ahmed and IPS officer Saiyaad Mustafa Hussain Mirza have also been made accused in the case.
Mirza, who was then posted as the Superintendent of Police of Burdwan, was too purportedly seen accepting money on camera. The Calcutta High Court had ordered the CBI to conduct a preliminary enquiry in the matter and had later on directed it to file an FIR to probe the incident. The FIR was registered under section 120 (b) of IPC related to criminal conspiracy and provisions of the Prevention of Corruption Act dealing with bribery and criminal misconduct.
The sting operation was supposed to be published in a magazine where Samuel, the man behind it, was then working. However, the tapes were later run on Naradanews.com.