Former TMC leader Sovan Chatterjee, who recently joined the BJP, was questioned by the CBI in connection with the Saradha scam probe on Thursday. Sources said Chatterjee was accompanied by his friend Baisakhi Banerjee.
The CBI officials questioned former Kolkata Mayor for nearly two hours at its CGO complex office in Salt Lake. Sovan has earlier been interrogated by both CBI and the Enforcement Directorate.
Chatterjee and Banerjee had joined BJP in August. Chatterjee, once a close aide of West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, had resigned as the Kolkata Mayor over alleged differences with her in November last year.
As per sources, CBI is probing the involvement of Chatterjee in the Saradha case, as he was a top influential leader of the ruling party when the scam had flourished in the state.
The Saradha group of companies allegedly duped lakhs of people to the tune of Rs 2,500 crore, promising higher rates of return on their investments.
Former Kolkata police commissioner Rajeev Kumar, who is presently the ADG CID, was part of the Special Investigation Team (SIT) set up by the West Bengal government to investigate the scam, before the Supreme Court handed over the case to the CBI in 2014, along with other chit fund cases.
The Saradha chit fund scam was unearthed in 2013 when investors demonstrated in front of the Trinamool Congress office, demanding the government take action against the group’s officials for defaulting on payments. It finally blew up in April 2013 when the chairman of the group that ran the ponzi scheme, Sudipta Sen, and the company’s executive director Debjani Mukherjee, were arrested from Jammu and Kashmir after a chase for a few days across north India.
Since then, many have been arrested and interrogated in the case. The Saradha scam generated great controversy since names of several leaders of the ruling Trinamool Congress cropped up during the investigation. Those arrested include Madan Mitra who was the then sports and transport minister in the Mamata Banerjee cabinet. Mitra was nabbed on December 12, 2014 and was released on bail in 2016.
Incidentally, he was the first incumbent minister to be arrested in the state. The other prominent Trinamool faces to be arrested in the Saradha scam are Rajya Sabha MP Kunal Ghosh, who also headed the media ventures of Saradha group and another Rajya Sabha MP Srinjoy Bose. Party vice-president and former police officer Rajat Majumdar was also arrested.