Abhishek Banerjee, TMC MP and nephew of the Chief Minister of West Bengal Mamata BanerjeeHe appeared before the Enforcement Directorate (ED) here on Monday for questioning in a money laundering case related to an alleged coal theft scam in the state, officials said. The 33-year-old MP reached the central agency’s office at Jam Nagar in central Delhi just before 11 am.
“I am ready to face the probe. The agency officials are doing their job and I will cooperate with them,” he said. The investigating officer of the case will record his statement under the provisions of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA). said.
Abhishek Banerjee represents the Diamond Harbor seat in the Lok Sabha and is the National General Secretary of the Trinamool Congress (TMC). The ED has registered a criminal case under PMLA after perusing the CBI’s November, 2020 FIR alleging coal theft worth crores of rupees related to mines of Eastern Coalfields Limited in Kunustoria and Kajora areas of the state in and around Asansol. was imposed.
Speaking to reporters at the Kolkata airport on Sunday, the MP had said that he would hang himself if any central agency proved his involvement in any illegal transaction. Anup Manjhi alias Lala, a local coal operator in West Bengal, is believed to be the prime suspect in the case. The ED had claimed that Abhishek Banerjee was the beneficiary of the money received from this illegal business.
His wife Rujeera was also summoned by the agency on September 1 in the matter, but she did not appear citing the prevailing coronavirus situation and requested the agency to interrogate her in Kolkata. It is believed that the agency can give them relief.
Some officials of the Indian Police Service (IPS) and a lawyer associated with Abhishek Banerjee have also been summoned to appear on different dates this month. Responding to these summons, Chief Minister Banerjee last week accused the Center of loosening its agencies on her nephew and claimed that some BJP ministers were working in connivance with the coal mafia.
The ED has so far arrested two people in this case. One of them is Vikas Mishra, brother of TMC youth wing leader Vinay Mishra, who is said to have left the country sometime back and renounced his Indian citizenship. The second person arrested in the case earlier this year is Ashok Kumar Mishra, a former in-charge of Bankura police station.
The ED had earlier claimed that the Mishra brothers received “income of crime to the tune of Rs 730 crore on behalf of and for themselves of certain influential persons” in the case, which included an estimated amount of Rs 1,352 crore. A “deep system” of political patronage and an ED seeking the remand of Inspector Mishra in April claimed before a court that “well oiled” machinery was used for some illegal coal mining in West Bengal had gone.
The ED had also filed a chargesheet in May this year. Citing a recorded statement of an unidentified “close associate” of Manjhi, the ED had earlier alleged that the prime suspect Manjhi managed his “illegal coal mining business as Inspector Mishra, to senior functionaries of a West Bengal political party”. It was running smoothly.” The statement of this unidentified “witness” produced by the ED in the remand note said that “it is a known fact that Vinay Mishra collected money from illegal coal mining of Manjhi and his associates for his close political boss in the present ruling party”. That Vinay Mishra is the youth leader of TMC and he is very close to Abhishek Banerjee and he (Vinay Mishra) is the eyes and ears of Abhishek Banerjee. The agency had claimed that the documents seized by him showed that “Majhi assisted in transferring substantial money received from proceeds of crime to the close relatives (wife and sister-in-law) of Mr. Abhishek Banerjee in London and Thailand.