MP | 19 March 2017 | Kolkata: Taking a U-turn from his previous stand on the source of money for the Narada sting operation, Narada News CEO Mathew Samuel on Sunday claimed that Tehelka had given him Rs 80 lakh to undertake the same.
Answering the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI)'s set of questions in a reply mail from Cochin, Samuel clearly stated that he had received the money from Tehelka for the sting operation that he had initiated in March 2014, sources said.
Soon after releasing the video footages featuring leaders of the Trinamool Congress ahead of the Assembly polls in 2016, Samuel claimed that some of his friends from Dubai, the United States and Australia who wanted to start the website had funded the sting operation.
Now, he claimed that the fund was provided by Tehelka.
Incidentally, K D Singh, a Trinamool Congress Rajya Sabha MP, is a major shareholder in Tehelka.
The CBI officers are looking into this "new" claim of Mathew as he had earlier told to different media houses that Singh, who was his boss, was unaware that he was working on the sting operation.
Samuel replied to 12 questions of the CBI that was given 72 hours time by the Calcutta high court for a preliminary probe. Based on this report, the CBI might initiate a case in this connection.
He took names of taxi driver Islam and another man named Tiger Mirza as the mediators between him and the people to whom he had claimed of paying money as a part of the sting operation.
In his reply, Samuel claimed that he had planned to undertake the sting operation in 2013 end but he finally started working on it from March 23, 2014.
According to Samuel's reply to the CBI, it took him around eight months to complete the sting operation and six to seven of his colleagues had assisted him to carry it out.
He further claimed that some of his colleagues in Narada News along with former employee Nidhi Ramchandran had edited the video footages in Delhi office that he was using for the sting operation and the videos were first uploaded on the website of Narada.
Samuel also stated in his reply that he used to stay in hotels and guest houses in Kolkata when he was working for the sting operation.
At times he had even met the politicians directly without putting up in the city for days.
The CBI officers have also taken the A1387 iPhone in which Samuel had recorded the video footages.
Other equipment like a SanDisk 64 GB pen drive, a Samsung hard disk and a Macbook Pro laptop in which he had stored the video footages have also been taken in custody. The investigating agency went to Samuel's house at Dwarka in Delhi and took the equipment in their possession.