The Enforcement Directorate (ED) has issued a fresh summons to TMC MP Abhishek Banerjee, asking him to appear before it for questioning on March 29 in a money laundering case linked to a West Bengal coal scandal, officials said on Thursday. The agency will continue to record Banerjee’s (34) statement in the case filed under the provisions of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA), they added.
The nephew of Trinamool Congress (TMC) national general secretary and West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee was interrogated by ED officials here for about eight hours on Monday (March 21st). He was interrogated for the second time in this case. He was first grilled by ED officials in September last year.
Banerjee’s role and links with the other accused in the case are being investigated, ED officials said. As he left the ED office on Monday, the TMC leader told reporters that he was a “law-abiding citizen” and therefore “cooperated” in the investigation.
He alleged that the ED, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and investigative agencies like the Income Tax Department were being used by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to “intimidate the opposition and its political figures”. The last ED summons was issued against Banerjee and his wife Rujira, after the Delhi High Court, on March 11, dismissed an application filed by the couple, challenging the notice and asking them to appear before the agency in Delhi instead of Kolkata.
Banerjee had on Monday filed a special leave petition (SLP) in the Supreme Court challenging the ED summons and asking him to appear before the agency in Delhi. The ED filed the case in November 2020 on the basis of an FIR registered by the CBI alleging theft of multi-crore coal at Eastern Coalfields Limited mines in Kunustoria and Kazora areas of West Bengal near Asansol.
Local coal operator Anup Majhi alias Lala is the main suspect in the case. The ED claimed that Banerjee was the beneficiary of the funds raised from this illegal business.
The agency has so far arrested two people in the case. One of the arrested accused is Bikash Mishra, brother of Binoy Mishra, leader of TMC’s youth wing, who has reportedly left the country and renounced his Indian citizenship. The second accused arrested is Ashok Kumar Mishra, a former inspector in-charge of Bankura police station.
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