An assistant director of the Enforcement Directorate (ED) has been taken off investigations into the Saradha and Rose Valley chit fund scams after CCTV grabs, purportedly showing him checking into a New Delhi hotel with the wife of a prime accused in the Rose Valley case, were aired on TV channels in Kolkata.
Ordering an inquiry into the role of the officer, Manoj Kumar, the ED is examining whether his links impacted investigations into the two cases.
ED sources said Manoj Kumar is likely to be suspended or reverted to his parent cadre in the Central Board of Excise and Customs (CBEC). As an immediate measure, he has been taken off the cases and another investigation officer (IO) has been appointed in his place.
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Sources said the CCTV grabs and photos, reportedly sourced from West Bengal police, show Manoj Kumar and the woman checking into a hotel in Sunder Nagar after they travelled from Kolkata to New Delhi on January 18.
West Bengal police, sources said, stumbled upon the footage while on the trail of hawala operators. The arrested operators led police to a chartered accountant who, sources said, had a file named “Madam Rose Valley” on his computer.
ED sources confirmed that they had received a report on the officer from Kolkata police. “There are serious allegations against him. He will face the music although we do not think he has been able to influence the cases adversely. An IO has limited say in the cases. All files are perused by the director,” sources said.
Meanwhile, the officer has denied any wrongdoing. Speaking to The Indian Express, Kumar said, “It’s a trap. I have been trapped by local authorities.”
The ED and CBI are conducting separate probes into the Rose Valley scandal and hundreds of bank accounts and fixed deposit certificates have been frozen.
Gautam Kundu, chairman and managing director of Rose Valley Group, has been behind bars since March 2015 for allegedly raising money from the market illegally. The ED had arrested Kundu under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act for raising public deposits despite several SEBI notices to stop it.
The extent of the Rose Valley scam is estimated to be R15,484 crore. The ED has already submitted two chargesheets and arrested five directors of the company.
On January 3, the CBI summoned and arrested Trinamool Congress leader Sudip Bandyopadhyay for his alleged involvement in the Rose Valley case. His was the second arrest of a Trinamool MP — Tapas Paul had been arrested days earlier.
Sweety Kumari &