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31 Dec 2016

CBI arrests Trinamool MP Tapas Paul in chit fund scam

Tapas Paul
HT, 30 December 2016, KOLKATA: Nearly 20 months after his home was raided and 14 months after he was first questioned in the Rose Valley chit fund scam, the CBI on Friday arrested Trinamool Lok Sabha MP and Tollywood star Tapas Paul after grilling him for over four hours at its office in Salt Lake.
Trinamool chief Mamata Banerjee immediately cried foul, accusing the Centre of letting loose the CBI on her MPs for the party’s opposition to the demonetisation decision.
On Friday morning, the MP from Krishnanager in Nadia district was summoned by the CBI to its office in Salt Lake. After four hours of intense interrogation, Tapas Paul was arrested apparently because the central agency sleuths were not satisfied with his answers.
In the evening, Paul was taken to Odisha where he will be produced in a court on Saturday. This is because the case against the MP has been filed in the neighbouring state. Rose Valley is accused of defrauding depositors of Rs 15,000 crore, and the scam is believed to be five times of that of the Saradha scandal. Rose Valley owner Gautam Kundu is in jail for over a year now. The group has tentacles in Odisha and has interests in hotels, real estate and media.
Central Bureau of Investigation sources said that Tapas Paul worked as the director of the ponzi firm’s film division for close to a year, and during this period, the MP accepted crores of rupees in cash from Rose Valley.
CBI officials said the 58-yearold Paul was not cooperating with investigators and deliberately concealing facts. The Trinamool MP has been under the agency’s scanner ever since the agency took over the probe and his homes in South Kolkata were searched in March last year.
CBI sources said that Paul took money from Rose Valley both through cheques and cash. This was corroborated by the accounts officers of Rose Valley group who were interrogated by the agency.
Ironically enough, it was Paul who had petitioned both Sebi and the Reserve Bank of India in 2011 against ponzi firms operating illegally in Bengal. Though most companies like Saradha made it to his list, Rose Valley that was also collecting money from the people illegally was left out. This, CBI sources say, proves Tapas Paul’s complicity in the Roase Valley case.
The CBI allegedly found incrementing documents during their search. Paul was apparently in New Delhi when the operation was conducted, triggering a volley of criticism from the ruling Trinamool against the agency and the Centre. Sources say, the CBI wants to interrogate Paul in its custody because he may give away the names of other influential people connected with the Rs 15,000 crore scam.

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