Kolkata: CA Arrested in Multi Crore Money Laundering Scam
By: Sashwata Saha
The Kolkata Police on November 22 arrested an accountant called Govind Agarwal in connection with an FIR registered at the city’s Hare Street police station in 2017. The FIR implicated him and Neeraj Singh, a Revenue Services officer, in a Ponzi scheme worth Rs 3.88 crores.
The Court of the Chief Judicial Magistrate at Alipore remanded Agarwal in judicial custody for two days till November 24 and directed that he be provided medical help.
A Detective Sub-Inspector from the Hare Street station said to Newshound India Foundation, “I was on the team that compiled a report on Agarwal and his associates during the probe following the Rose Valley money laundering scam. In September 2017, we filed an FIR against Agarwal and one of his clients -- an IRS officer. The officer was posted at the IT department here, back then and was using Agarwal as a ‘middleman’ to park funds in various companies.”
It is to be noted that Singh and Agarwal were being investigated by both the Enforcement Directorate and the CBI for their alleged connexions to the Rose Valley financial scandal.
Back in 2017, the police had arrested Agarwal in a case where Singh was also an accused character. During the search of Agarwal’s properties that followed, the authorities recovered hordes of sensitive and confidential documents belonging to the Income Tax Department, CBI, Financial Intelligence Unit, Directorate of Revenue Intelligence and others. This led the investigators to establish the links between Agarwal and multiple high ranking government officials including Neeraj Singh.
Police sources said that Govind Agarwal is not a certified chartered accountant but in the circles, he moved around, he is “rumoured” to be one.
While the arrest looked cut and dried on paper, Biplab Goswami, Agarwal’s lawyer was quick to point out the holes in the police’s charges. “How can the police arrest my client without establishing a prima facie case of criminal conspiracy?” he questioned before adding, “My client has cooperated with the police in all manners. He has attended six interrogations and even filled out a KP questionnaire a couple of months back. Also, the FIR names a central government officer, do the Calcutta cops even have jurisdiction, here?”
From Agarwal’s Ballygunge residence, the police have seized the accountant’s travel documents and those that connect him to government officials. The police claimed in the press statement that these papers, including those on the usage of a car, are linked to the people being probed by the CBI and ED in ongoing Ponzi scheme investigations.
Meanwhile, West Bengal Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar has expressed his displeasure at the arrest by tweeting, “Alarmingly worrisome inputs from CA fraternity-politically inspired operation overzealousy afoot @KolkataPolice headed #DD targets CAs-strategy-fishing for material to handicap team members that raided mafia #coal #cattle.”
This tweet was made hours before the Kolkata Police had Agarwal's connections with senior Income Tax officials public.
When asked for a response, the state’s Parliamentary Affairs Minister, Partha Chatterjee said, “Instead of tweeting he can formally join a political party. He is bringing disgrace to his pride and honour.”
The Rose Valley Chit Fund Scam rocked West Bengal, Bihar and Assam in 2013 when it was discovered that the Rose Valley Group had floated 27 companies for running the chit fund operations. Among these, only six were active at that point. It is alleged that the company had made "cross investments" in its various sister firms to suppress its liabilities towards investors. The ED put the scammed amount at Rs 15,000 crore.
While major players such as Rose Valley CEO Gautam Kundu and award-winning film producer Srikant Mohta were arrested for their roles, other key members such as TMC MPs, the late Tapas Paul and Mukul Roy got away. Roy has changed political colours and is now batting for the Opposition -- the BJP.
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