Kolkata: Investigators following the money trail in the Saradha Group ponzi scam that broke in India’s West Bengal state last year have progressed considerably in tracing its growth and the influential men who benefited from it.
Following an extensive search of Saradha offices in Kolkata, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has questioned Subhojit, son of kingpin Sudipto Sen, after finding evidence that he used money siphoned from the group to buy shares and luxury cars when he had fled to Bangalore, said sources.
The Enforcement Directorate (ED), which is also probing the Saradha financial scandal, has already unearthed 70 new Saradha accounts through Subhojit.
ED is also in lookout for two individuals — Ashok Biswas and Kiran Misra — who investigators feel might be key to a large chunk of the company’s properties.
The two names first propped up in a letter that Sen allegedly wrote, in which he had claimed that details of all of his properties, including land and buildings, residential flats and bungalows, are with Ashok Biswas.
Also in that letter, Sudipta had mentioned the name of Kiran Misra, who was also allegedly privy to the details.
Sen had said that the deeds are kept in six sealed trunks in the Salt Lake office.
“The regulating authority must immediately take possession of all the six trunks of the original deeds and other related documents, or they can vanish overnight,” Sen had written in the letter.
It has also emerged that Sen had imported a Ferrari sports car to be given as gift to a Trinamool Congress (TMC) leader, who is now a minister in Mamata Banerjee’s cabinet.
Sen had told the detectives, that he did not import the car for personal use but it was meant as gift for the said minister, who allegedly had asked for it.
He also revealed that he had paid Rs18 million (Dh1.07 million) from one of Saradha Group’s bank accounts. The CBI has asked the customs department to furnish the details of the person, who had placed the order for the vehicle, the date and place of delivery and the mode of payment.
The CBI discovered that funds of depositors in group companies were siphoned to Sen’s personal bank account.
In the case of the vehicle, the money was transferred to the account of a woman journalist, who holds a British passport, from where it was routed to an agent who sells Ferrari cars in Germany.
Sen has told the investigators that the car was a payout to the minister, who had not only attended several public functions to promote his chit fund business, but also helped in several other ways.
Such revelations of Sen’s close connections to TMC leaders could be severely damaging to the party specially ahead of the 2016 state assembly elections, and its leadership are worried about it.
“If it is proved that it was a minister who asked for the car, then it would be very damaging for us. It is true some of our leaders had proximity, but Mamata Banerjee herself did not have any line of contact with Sen,” said a TMC leader unwilling to be named.