Bengal coal scam: ED to question bizman’s accountant

After detaining and questioning Kolkata-based businessman Vikram Sikaria for around 12 hours in connection with the coal smuggling scam in West Bengal, the Enforcement Directorate (ED) now wants to question the accountant of his firm at its Delhi office.

Initially, it was believed that Sikaria had been taken into custody.

ED sources later clarified that he was not officially arrested but detained and questioned for around 12 hours since their sleuths seized unaccounted cash worth Rs 1.40 crore from his office in South Kolkata on Wednesday.

Sikaria and his firm’s accountant have been asked to appear for further questioning next week at the agency’s headquarters.

The ED on Thursday issued a statement that the seized cash was unaccounted and part of the total cash payment of approximately Rs 9 crore for a property called Salasar Guest House, at an undervalued price.

As per the statement, the raid and search operations were conducted following a specific intelligence input that a highly influential political person was making an attempt to launder the proceeds of crime originating from coal smuggling, through his close confidant Manjit Singh Grewal aka Jitti Bhai.

“The market value of this property is more than Rs 12 crore, however the deed value of the same is shown at around Rs 3 crore. This money was part of the agreed differential amount to be paid in cash from the proceeds generated from coal smuggling,” the statement read.

The ED has claimed that on February 8, the registry of this property was done at an undervalued price at the office of the additional sub-registrar, Alipore and the cash was being handed over at the office of Vikram Sikaria of Gajraj Group.

“Preliminary analysis of material on record suggests a greater nexus and it appears that this person was also involved in handling illegal cash of a minister,” the Central agency added.

As per sources, Jitti Bhai is currently absconding.

Meanwhile, BJP West Bengal president Sukanta Majumdar tweeted a picture of Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee with Grewal and wrote: “Grewal is the president of the Hindi cell of Trinamool Congress in South Kolkata. Did she appoint him to learn Hindi?”




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