(Written by Atri Mitra)
The Enforcement Directorate (ED) has started probing the alleged anomalies in the Metro Dairy’s share transactions between the government and one private dairy organisation. The agency has summoned two government officials on October 14 and 15, while a Trinamool Congress MLA Paras Dutta has been summoned on October 16 in connection to the case, said ED sources.
However, Dutta has denied charges of anomalies.
According to ED sources, major anomalies in foreign exchange and share transactions might have taken place in the Metro Diary case.
In 1996, the Metro Diary was set up jointly by the West Bengal government and National Dairy Development Board. It is now a subsidiary, 100 per cent owned by the Keventer Agro Ltd. “We have issued notice to the then Metro Dairy chairman and Jagaddal MLA, Paras Dutta, and two other government officials,” said an ED official.
In Metro Dairy, the state government used to hold 47 per cent share.
According to sources, the government had allegedly sold its share to the Keventer at Rs 85 crore in 2017. In the same year, one Singapore-based company reportedly bought Metro Dairy’s 15 per cent share for Rs 170 crore.
Last year, Congress MP and Leader of Opposition in Lok Sabha Adhir Chowdhury submitted a PIL at Calcutta High Court, in which ED was made a party. Following that the ED started an investigation into the matter and summoned two government officials for interrogation.
The ED then approached the Animal Resource Department, but the then secretary Anil Verma allegedly refused to give any information.
After a couple of months, Verma was replaced by B P Gopalika, who provided all necessary papers and information to ED. However, ED was not satisfied with that. So, they again issued summons to Dutta and two other government officials.
Dutta denied all allegations saying, “Adhir Chowdhury does not know anything. All allegations are completely baseless.”
He said, “We had appointed a High Court-designated valuer, and according to their valuation we sold our share to the Keventers. During that time, the price at which we sold the shares was much higher than market value.”
Dutta said, “I don’t know why ED called me in Foreign Exchange Money Act (FEMA) case. In our part, there was no foreign exchange transaction.”
He further said, “We did everything according to rule. We will submit all papers regarding this transaction.”
According to ED, to facilitate the entry of the Singapore-based organisation, government officials sold their shares at a low price as a prominent Trinamool Congress leader is associated with the Singapore-based company.