Saradha Scam: Birthday boy Mithun Chakraborty returns Rs 1.19 crore to ED

Bollywood superstar and Trinamool Congress MP Mithun Chakraborty on Tuesday returned the money he had received from scam-tainted Saradha Group

Kolkata: Bollywood superstar and Trinamool Congress MP Mithun Chakraborty on Tuesday surrendered to Enforcement Directorate (ED) about Rs 1.19 crore that he had received from scam-hit Saradha group of companies for being its brand ambassador.

Chakraborty's counsel Biman Sarkar submitted a bank draft of Rs.1,19,88,560, to the Enforcement Directorate (ED) which is probing the money trail in the multi-crore-rupee scam.

Mithun Chakraborty
Mithun Chakraborty

"Chakraborty was paid professional fees of Rs.1.76 crore for hosting the TV show 'Bangla Bolchay songe Mithun'. Today (Tuesday) he returned that money after deducting the tax that he had to pay," Sarkar said after depositing the draft with the ED officials in Kolkata.

Sarkar said the agreement with the actor was for a year for an amount of Rs.2 crore.

"ED officials earlier asked if he (Chakraborty) could voluntarily return the money. So he returned that money as it belongs to the poor," the counsel added.

Sources said a team of lawyers and other representatives of the actor reached the probe agency's office at Salt Lake and handed over a Demand Draft (DD) to the investigating officer (IO) of the case.

"This was part of Chakraborty's earlier commitment that he would return the funds that he had received from the group. The DD has been given to the IO of the Saradha scam probe case," sources said.

They added that the agency is satisfied with the said action and the statement recorded by the actor-politician regarding his role in the operations of the group, which has now become defunct in the wake of allegations against it of perpetrating a large-scale chit-fund scam in West Bengal and other states.

During his last questioning by ED here in May, Chakraborty had provided the agency sleuths with a number of DVDs, CDs and scripts that he had got as part of being the brand ambassador of the Saradha group.

The actor had done so to back his claim to investigators that his association with Saradha Group was "purely professional" and that he had no intentions of cheating or duping anyone.

"He had told investigators that he had no inkling about any sort of scam that was being perpetrated. The actor had submitted all his personal and official records to the agency in this regard," the sources said.

Chakraborty had also promised he would deposit the amount of Rs 1.2 crore he had received from Saradha Group so that it may be finally restored to the depositors who were allegedly cheated in the scam.

The Rajya Sabha MP of the ruling party in West Bengal had told ED that he "actually acted in promotional videos and advertisements that were broadcast on television shows" made by the Saradha Group and that was done as per his contract.

He told investigators that if he had bad intentions, he would not have undertaken the promotional activity and instead merely stashed the money away.

The probe agency had in June last year questioned the actor in Mumbai after it detected that some money had gone into his account from Saradha business portals.

ED subsequently summoned him again early this year following which the latest submissions happened.

While recording his statement last year, sources said Chakraborty had told investigators that he had "no business dealings" with the now-defunct group which was headed by Sudipta Sen and that he would share all personal transaction details with them.

ED sources had earlier said Chakraborty was reportedly sent the said amount for being the brand ambassador of a media platform floated by Saradha Group.

The agency had registered a criminal case under PMLA in 2013 and has already questioned a number of people, including sitting MPs and political leaders, in this regard.

The agency, till now, has found that a maze of 338 bank accounts and 224 companies were used by the perpetrators of the alleged ponzi scam which duped investors in various states including West Bengal, Odisha and Assam.

CBI, probing the case on the directions of Supreme Court, has also filed a charge sheet in a court.

Chakraborty is among several parliamentarians of West Bengal's ruling Trinamool Congress who have been grilled by the ED and the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), which too is probing the scam.

The CBI in its chargesheet has indicted several Trinamool leaders, including state Transport Minister Madan Mitra, in the scam that came to light in April 2013.

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