What the ED has found so far in West Bengal SSC scam

What an irony it is that at a time when the citizens of this country were busy filing the income-tax returns, the Enforcement Directorate (ED) was busy unearthing mountains of hoarded and stolen wealth from a bunch of politicians. And that list includes ousted West Bengal minister Partha Chatterjee. 

Partha Chatterjee is among those arrested by the ED in the West Bengal SSC scam. He and his associates are accused of irregularities in the recruitment of staff and teachers in the government-sponsored and aided schools. CBI is investigating the case while the ED is tracking the money. So far, at least Rs 50 crore in cash, gold ornaments and several properties have been seized by the ED. 

Here is what the ED has found in the latest: 

The ED is looking into a GST number linked to accused No 2 and Partha Chatterjee’s close associate, Arpita Mukherjee. Reportedly, there are two GST numbers, out of which one is linked to a beauty parlour business and the other is not linked to any business. ED suspects the other GST number could have been generated illegally to evade taxes. 

The ED conducted raids at six locations in the case on Tuesday, August 2, 2022. The agency found a nail art studio in Patuli owned by Mukherjee. The studio was located in a building owned by a TMC councillor. The studio was sealed and the councillor was also interrogated by the agency. 

Reports suggest at least three nail art studios belonging to Mukherjee were raided. 

Rathtala: The ED also visited another apartment belonging to Mukherjee in Rathtala, Belgharia in North 24 Parganas. The officials were puzzled to find nine beds in the 3BHK flat, three in each room. Reportedly, the flat was to be used for a ‘business’.

South Kolkata: Another flat at Fort Oasis Apartment in Kolkata was sealed by the ED. The flat belonged to one Smita Jhunjhunwala. The woman’s identity couldn’t be established immediately. The ED reportedly believed that the flat in the high-end apartment was gifted to Chatterjee by a businessman Om Jhunjhunwala. It was reportedly being used by Mukherjee. Security guards of the apartment told the media that no one had visited the apartment in the last 10 years and maintenance has also not been paid by the owner.  

Madurdaha: The ED also raided a three-storey house in Madurdaha which was reportedly rented out to a hospital. 

These properties are different from the places where ED found a substantial amount of unaccounted cash and gold. The ED will be checking the CCTV footage at Mukherjee’s flats to see who all visited the properties. Moreover, Mukherjee and Chatterjee jointly own a farmhouse in Shantiniketan. 

The ED is also looking into Aprita Mukherjee’s recent orders for two SUVs. She already has five cars to her name, though four are currently missing. The missing ones include a Mercedes Benz, an Audi A4, a Honda CRV, and a Honda City. ED believes these vehicles were being used for the transfer of cash. 

5. The companies: The ED is also investigating three companies where Mukherjee is the director – Symbiosis Merchants Private Limited, Sentry Engineering Private Limited, and Arpita Echhay Entertainment Private Limited. Her brother-in-law Kalyan Dhar is also a director at these companies.

What Arpita Mukherjee has said: Speaking to the media, Mukherjee recently claimed that the money was “slipped” into her flats without her knowledge. Earlier she had reportedly told the ED that all the unaccounted money belonged to Partha Chatterjee and that she and some other woman’s flats were being used as ‘mini banks’ by the politician. 

“In my absence, the money was slipped into the flats,” Arpita Mukherjee told the media.

What Partha Chatterjee has said: Reportedly, Chatterjee has been evasive during interrogation with the ED. But he told the media that he was a “victim of conspiracy” and time will reveal the names of the others involved.

On the other hand, there are rumours that the Mamata Banerjee-led government is planning for a major cabinet overhaul due to the Partha Chatterjee scandal. Though, Banerjee has denied that rejig has anything to do with the scam.

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