NEW DELHI: Trinamool Congress (TMC) General Secretary and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s nephew Abhishek Banerjee on Monday joined the Enforcement Directorate (ED) probe at its headquarters here in New Delhi, in connection with an illegal coal scam case.
Abhishek Banerjee, who is also Lok Sabha MP from Diamond Harbor, arrived at the agency headquarters here at 11.05 am. He was asked to appear before the agency for questioning four days ago.
His statement is being recorded under Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA). His wife Rujira Banerjee has also been summoned for questioning on March 22.
The fresh summons against Abhishek Banerjee and Rujira were issued after the Delhi High Court dismissed the petition filed by them seeking quashing of summons issued to them by ED in connection with West Bengal coal scam case.
Last week, the Delhi High Court also dismissed the plea by Banerjee’s wife Rujira Banerjee assailing the complaint filed by ED against her in the money laundering case and the Trial Court order taking cognisance of the said complaint. The plea also assailed the subsequent issuance of summons against her for physical appearance.
The ED had last year registered a case of money laundering on the basis of a case registered by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) in November 2020 alleging that a coal pilferage at a massive scale was taking place in Eastern Coalfields Ltd mines in Kunustoria and Kajora areas in West Bengal.
The CBI had questioned Rujira Banerjee in connection with the case on February 23, days ahead of the Assembly elections in Bengal. Her sister and family members have also been questioned in the case.
Local state operative Anup Majhi alias Lala is alleged to be the prime suspect in the case.
The ED had earlier claimed that Abhishek Banerjee, a Lok Sabha MP from Diamond Harbor, was a beneficiary of the funds obtained from this illegal trade. The Trinamool leader had denied all the charges.
The financial probe agency had claimed in a Delhi court in April last year that “Majhi assisted in transferring substantial funds derived from the proceeds of crime to Abhishek Banerjee’s close relative (wife and sister-in-law) in London and Thailand.”
After arresting the former Inspector in-charge of Bankura police station, Ashok Kumar Mishra in the case, the ED had claimed in a Delhi court in April, just ahead of state assembly elections, that Banerjee was a beneficiary of funds obtained in the illegal mining, which was flourishing in West Bengal under the ‘patronage’ of the political party in power.
Apart from Mishra, ED has arrested Vikas Mishra, brother of TMC youth wing leader Vinay Mishra, in the case so far. Vinay Mishra, said to be close to Banerjee, left the country in September 2020 and has already renounced his Indian citizenship.
According to the probe carried out by the anti-money laundering agency, an amount of Rs 1,352 crore has been illegally generated by Majhi through illegal coal mining in just two years.