November 27, 2014 4:38:11 am
The Enforcement Directorate Wednesday grilled senior journalist and editor of Bengali daily Ei Somoi Suman Chatterjee and his wife Kasturi Chatterjee for several hours Wednesday in connection with the Saradha financial scam. Suman had appeared before the investigators last week too.
According to sources, Suman had taken took “unsecured loans” from three “chit fund companies”, including Saradha Group, and laundered it through two of his publication companies including Ekdin, a Bengali daily, and Disha, a Bengali magazine. While he sold Disha to one of those chit fund groups, he reportedly still owns Ekdin.
It was learnt that Suman took Rs 5 crore from Saradha Group of companies, which has already been traced by the investigators. The sources further added that Suman returned some of the amount to the Saradha Group. However, to do so, he borrowed money from two other chit fund groups. Interestingly, he sold Disha publication for Rs 2 crore even though it had a negative net worth of Rs7.28 crore at the time of the sale. It was found that he had allegedly taken around Rs 16 crore from two chit fund groups while from Saradha he had allegedly taken around Rs 5 crore. The investigators called this modus operandi of money laundering as “round tripping”.
Kasturi, his wife, who is also a share holder in his company, Wednesday, reportedly told the investigators that she did whatever her husband told her to.
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Suman, however, could not explain why he used to take money from these companies. He is said to have told the investigators that there was an agreement of Rs 20 crore between his company and Saradha for selling his publication, though the chit fund group went bust before that. Later, he sold Disha to another chit fund group. It was also learnt that Suman was one of the directors in Santanu Ghosh’s Global automobile group, the firm which is under ED scanner for financial irregularities. The sources revealed that the directorate is likely to initiate action against him soon in the case.
Suman, meanwhile, claimed that that he had been to ED office on his own. “They never summoned me. I went to them by myself. They had asked for some papers, which I went to submit today. The director and assistant director than chatted with me for hours and I had lunch there too,” he said.
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