Enforcement Directorate officials on Thursday questioned actor-turned-Trinamool MP Mithun Chakraborty in Mumbai in the Saradha probe even as CBI summoned East Bengal Club secretary Debabrata aka Nitu Sarkar for his alleged involvement in the scam. Mithun’s interrogation, which lasted more than five hours, was aimed at tracking the Saradha money trail and his dealings with Bengal Media Pvt Ltd, say sources. While the initial plan was to question him at his home, sources said he himself wanted to come to the ED office. Mithun arrived at 11.30am, dressed in a striped shirt, blue jeans and a green scarf.
“He was carrying a bunch of documents which he presented to the officials,” said a source. Earlier, when ED had wanted to interrogate him, Mithun said he would shooting in Jordan and would appear before them on returning. According to ED officials, Mithun’s involvement with the Saradha group started around 2010 after he agreed to appear on TV shows of Sudipta Sen’s Channel 10. While the Saradha Group website and press releases claimed the much acclaimed actor was a brand ambassador of Channel 10, Mithun denied it on Thursday. “I was never a brand ambassador of any group company of Saradha.
I had appeared for a TV programme of the group,” he told ED officials, adding that he had no further involvement with Saradha nor any public appearance. Mithun said it was suspended Trinamool MP Kunal Ghosh (now an accused) who introduced him to Sudipta. Mithun asked for an annual payment of Rs 2 crore and started shooting though there was no formal agreement. According to him, Sudipta did not keep his word and he is yet to get Rs 51 lakh from Saradha. According to an ED official, Mithun was paid “several times” between 2010 and 2012, mostly from Bengal Media Pvt Ltd — the holding company for Channel 10. Some payments were made by Saradha Realty. He was paid in small accounts, ranging between Rs 1 lakh and Rs 5 lakh. But when the cheques started bouncing, Mithun says he decided not to renew the contract.
According to his lawyer D K Sarkar, although Saradha had deducted TDS of Rs 14 lakh from Mithun’s payments, they had not deposited it with the income tax authority. “He has submitted a lot of documents. Any decision to interrogate him again can be taken only after we go through the documents,” an ED official said. On the same day, Debabrata got a notice from CBI.
The businessman said it was addressed to East Bengal Club officials and not to him personally, and that CBI merely wants to know about the club’s deal with Saradha. Probe agency sources, however, indicated that their questioning will go beyond the deal and into his alleged role mentioned in Sudipta Sen’s purported letter to CBI. CBI expects Debabrata to join investigations in 15 days.
“I have already provided details to CBI. I will cooperate in any manner possible,” said Debabrata. “Please do understand that he is coming as a witness and not as an accused as of now,” a CBI official said. Saradha had invested in both Mohun Bagan (Rs. 1.8 crore in 2010-11) and rivals East Bengal (Rs. 3.5 crore since 2010). Sudipta had even been gifted a life membership by East Bengal.
MITHUN CHAKRABORTY QUESTIONED ON SARADHA LINKS