Kolkata: A Congress link to West Bengal's Saradha chit fund scam has surfaced. CNN-IBN has accessed a letter written by Congress MP from Malda and Union Minister of State Abu Haseem Khan Chowdhury to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh where he shields the Saradha group.
In the letter dated March 15, 2012, Chowdhury has withdrawn his complaint of September 2011 against Saradha Realty and has defended the company. Chowdhury urged the PM to keep Saradha Realty 'outside the purview of the Reserve Bank of India' because it is 'not a chit fund, microfinance or Non-Banking Finance Deposit Company'.
He said Saradha Realty is presently in compliance with all mandatory and legal guidelines of the Companies Act and does not violate any laws. He also regretted his earlier complaint because it 'caused severe financial stress and reputational damages to Saradha'. Chowdhury said his earlier complaint was a bonafide case of injustice and that it was made due to misrepresentation of facts by vested interests.
Meanwhile, more big names have come into the fray in the chit fund scam. Finance Minister P Chidambaram's wife Nalini Chidambaram was engaged as a senior advocate to appear on behalf of Manoranjana Sinh and her husband and a Narasimha Rao government minister Matang Sinh in a company petition filed by her before the company law board against M/4 Positive TV Ltd, sources close to the Union Minister's wife have said. The case is still pending before the Company Law Board.
Sources say Nalini represented and advised Manoranjana in her professional capacity and the Saradha group of companies proposed to invest in the company of Manoranjana. This came after Saradha group promoter Sudipta Sen's letter to the Central Bureau of Investigation pointed fingers at Nalini. The letter mentions Nalini Chidambaram, who was the lawyer for a deal between Sudipta Sen and the Narasimha Rao government minister Matang Sinh and his wife Manoranjana Sinh to buy a channel in the Northeast.
The Trinamool Congress has hit out at the Congress demanding that the minister himself or his wife must clarify their role in the deal. The TMC has also asked if the fee paid to the lawyer was some kind of 'protection money'.
Sudipta Sen, who was brought to Kolkata late on Wednesday night on a 4-day transit remand, was produced in court on Thursday along with two others arrested from Sonmarg in Jammu and Kashmir on Tuesday. Sources say six trunks full of deeds mentioned in Sudipta Sen's letter to the CBI have been seized. Sen's cook Hemanta Pradhan, who was made a director in one of his companies, has also been questioned.
In his explosive letter to the CBI, Sen says he was forced into media by TMC MPs Kunal Ghosh and Srinjoy Bose who runs the Pratidin media group. Many high profile names have been mentioned in the letter, including those of top TMC politicians, lawyers and journalists.
Earlier on Wednesday when the details of an explosive letter written by Sudipta Sen to the CBI were made public, a round of blame game between the TMC and Left Front had taken place. Sen in the latter alleged that he was forced into the media business by TMC MPs Kunal Ghosh and Srinjoy Bose who run the Pratidin media group. He has also said that he is neither liable nor has the money to refund investors.
Through the letter, Sen made himself out to be the victim of a larger conspiracy and not the accused. Sen claimed in his letter that he was used and abused by brokers and politicians in raking in money from investors. What's surprising is that he details the scam, but claims innocence in the face of all allegations saying his signatures and seal were used.
In his letter, Sen says he was forced into enter into the media business as he was being threatened by TMC MPs Kunal Ghosh and Srinjoy Bose who run the Pratidin media group. He claims he was forced to pay Rs 60 lakhs to Pratidin for content and 15 lakhs per month to Kunal Ghosh. From 2011 to 2013 Sen claims to have paid nearly Rs 20 crore to the TMC MPs. In return these TMC MPs would offer protection from the State and Centre and exclusive access to Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee
TMC MP Kunal Ghosh allegedly wanted him to sell Channel 10 to him for Rs 55 lakhs which he refused and eventually the deal was sealed for Rs 24 crore. What's more, Sen names top political leaders and lawyers with links to high profile politicians who would ensure smooth sailing for all his business ventures.
He claims to have paid middleman to settle his case and influence the Sebi as well. He also claims he was asked to pay Rs 25 crores to set up a North East channel through a lawyer in return for political protection.
One of the TMC MPs named in the letter, Srinjoy Bose defended himself on Wednesday saying his links with the Saradha group were completely professional. He sad there was no proximity between Mamata and the Saradha group.