The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on Friday arrested Trinamool Congress Rajya Sabha MP Srinjoy Bose after questioning him for six hours in connection with the Saradha chit fund scam. Sources said Bose was arrested for failing to explain alleged financial transactions between him and Saradha group CMD Sudipta Sen, who is currently in jail.
Bose is the second TMC MP and third TMC leader to be arrested in connection with the scam. Bose, who is also the editor of Bengali daily Sambad Protidin and is in the editorial board of TMC mouthpiece Jago Bangla, was booked on charges of “criminal conspiracy, misappropriation of funds and deriving undue advantage” from Saradha group.
The TMC reacted sharply to the arrest. Party national spokesperson and Rajya Sabha MP Derek O’Brien said, “The CBI is a political tool used by the previous government to settle political scores. Now the BJP is doing an action replay. They cannot combat the Trinamool politically. They have tried and failed. So what do they do? Let loose a discredited CBI.”
The arrest came a day after the Enforcement Directorate, which is running a parallel investigation to unearth the money trail, sealed five bank accounts — two personal accounts of Bose and three of his newspaper.
Bose’s arrest came as a setback to Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, who attacked the CBI for a “flawed investigation” at a public meeting in Kalyani, just minutes before the investigating agency formally announced the arrest in the afternoon. Instead of investigating who cheated the common people and trying to return their money, the central agency was probing who cheated the Saradha group, Mamata said. “It is acting like a ‘dalal’ for the thieves,” she said.
In the morning, before entering the CBI office here, Bose appeared composed as he told reporters that had been summoned as an “witness” in the case. “As a law abiding citizen of the country I would cooperate with the investigators,” he said.
Bose is the son of shipping magnet Swapan Sadhan Bose, popular as Tutu Bose, who was a TMC RS MP till he made way for his son in 2012. Bose and Kunal Ghosh became MPs around the same time and were Mamata’s choice to represent the media world.
Announcing Bose’s arrest, CBI’s Kanchan Prasad said, “Bose has been arrested in the Saradha chit fund scam in Bengal for his prima facie involvement in the case.”
CBI sources said Bose could not explain the “financial transactions of Rs 10 crore between his company and the Saradha group”. It was learnt that Saradha CMD Sudipta Sen during interrogation told investigators that he used to be under constant pressure from Bose to send him Rs 50 lakh every month.
Days before his arrest, Bose had told The Indian Express, “My company Sambad Protidin had signed an agreement with Sen to provide support to his channel for editorial expertise and content. It was a deal of Rs 10 crore, though Rs 1 crore remained unpaid by Sen. The deal was signed in September 2010 and it was over in May 2012. CBI needed certain clarifications regarding the deal.”
However, the CBI sources said that although the ‘deal’ was officially over by 2012, Bose used to allegedly force Sen to give him at least Rs 50 lakh per month.
Bose is the third TMC leader to be arrested in connection with the scam after Kunal Ghosh and former DGP Rajat Majumdar.
The CBI also examined state TMC minister Shaymapada Mukherjee and Congress leader Somen Mitra in connection with the case. Mitra later told reporters that he was asked about his letter to the PMO in which he demanded a CBI inquiry against the chit fund companies.