Former West Bengal Education Minister Partha Chatterjee remained largely evasive during his questioning, but his “close associate” Arpita Mukherjee spilled the beans before the Enforcement Directorate (ED), saying it was “all Partha’s money” and sought leniency from the investigating agency.
News18 has a copy of the 152-page charge sheet submitted by the ED in court on Monday in connection with the West Bengal School Service Commission (WBSSC) recruitment scam.
Citing Mukherjee’s statement before the ED, the charge sheet stated that she did not make true disclosure of the ownership of the seized cash of Rs 49.8 crore and jewelery worth more than Rs 5 crore earlier. “…she had not made true disclosure due to fear of her personal security and that of her mother and that she wanted to disclose the true facts. Arpita then stated that the seized cash and jewelery seized from two premises belonged to Chatterjee, and so only he could explain,” the ED charge sheet stated.
It added that she wanted to make a formal application regarding the disclosure for consideration of the court. “In this regard, she has made an application for treating this disclosure as an application for taking a lenient view under the provisions of law,” the charge sheet stated.
The ED, in its set of charges against Arpita Mukherjeesaid that “she accepted in her statement dated August 4, 2022 that the huge cash hidden at her home belongs to Partha Chatterjee”. The ED does not seem to have given her any leniency as it accused her of “knowingly assisting Chatterjee in the process of concealing the proceeds of crime,” as per the charge sheet.
THE TWO COMPANIES
The charge sheet stated that two companies were formed under the “control and active assistance” of Chatterjee — Echhay Entertainment Pvt. Ltd. and Sentry Engineering Pvt. Ltd — wherein Arpita Mukherjee was made the director.
“The purpose of these companies was laundering the funds by way of depositing the cash in the accounts maintained in the name of the companies and subsequently purchasing immovable properties in the name of the companies. Arpita allowed her bank accounts to be used by Chatterjee for depositing huge cash, buying properties and managing investments,” the charge sheet stated.
The ED stated that Arpita Mukherjee even allowed her residential flats situated at Club Town heights and Diamond City South to be used to stash “proceeds of crime to the tune of more than Rs 54.5 crore”.
The ED, in its charge sheet, stated that Chatterjee was evasive about most questions. Either he refused to provide an explanation or remained evasive, and on one occasion, when confronted with a document, he said that “the paper would speak for itself”, the ED said.
On other issues, the ED said Chatterjee expressed his non-cooperation, stating that he never acted on the said documents. The ED said Chatterjee also refused to sign the seized documents recovered during the investigation and termed some of those as “irrelevant”.
The charge sheet also mentioned that a huge investment took place in Chatterjee’s son-in-law’s school. “Investigation conducted under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) revealed that cash to the tune of Rs 15 crore was infused into the BCM International School…the expenses of Rs. 4.38 crore shown to have been incurred in the construction of the school,” the ED said, pegging the total value of the BCM International School at Rs 19.38 crore.