The CBI grilled Trinamool Congress MP and owner-editor of a vernacular daily Srinjoy Bose in connection with the multi-crore-rupee Saradha chit fund scam on Wednesday.
Bose, who is the editor of the Bengali daily, Pratidin, was named by alleged scam mastermind and Saradha Group chairman Sudipta Sen in a letter he has purportedly written to the CBI in April last year.
In the letter, Sen claimed that he entered the media business after the Bengali daily started attacking him. He also said that his entry into the media space was the prime cause for the collapse of his vast business empire.
Sen, now under arrest with his top aides, said that after he purchased a television channel, Bose along with a senior journalist of the newspaper, Kunal Ghosh, came to him and he had to make arrangement for paying ₹60 lakh per month to the newspaper for running the channel.
"(The paper) has also given me assurance that on execution of this agreement they will protect my business from the State and the Centre and I will be able to get a smooth passage and they assured me that they have very close connection with (West Bengal Chief Minister) Mamata Banerjee," dislosed Bose.
Ghosh, who along with Bose, later became Trinamool Rajya Sabha member, is now behind bars for his alleged involvement in the scandal, said to be spread over several states and running into thousands of crores.
Sen in his letter also alleged that over two years, the paper had taken ₹20 crore from him for running the channel.
However, Bose - who earlier was quizzed by another central agency Serious Fraud Investigation Office (SFIO) - has steadfastly maintained that he had only entered into a business deal with Sen for providing editorial support to the channel and had no connection with Saradha's money market ventures.
Bose also claimed that Pratidin did not get the quantum of money that was agreed upon in the contract.
The CBI sleuths also questioned Samir Chakraborty, husband of Trinamool leader and Bidhannagar Municipality chairperson Krishna Chakraborty as part of the Saradha probe.
A day earlier, the CBI had arrested Trinamool leader and former director general (armed police) of West Bengal Rajat Majumdar in connection with the scam.
Majumdar, the first Trinamool leader to be arrested by the CBI, complained of chest pain soon after being taken into custody and was rushed to the state-run NRS Medical College and hospital. Now admitted in the hospital's Intensive Cardiac Care Unit, he is undergoing tests.
Majumdar is the third person nabbed by the premier investigating agency in West Bengal in the scam. It earlier arrested East Bengal club official Debabrata Sarkar and Kolkata entrepreneur Sandhir Agarwal.
A number of MPs and close associates of powerful leaders of the Trinamool have faced grilling from central agencies like CBI and Enforcement Directorate (ED).
The Saradha scam came to light in April 2013 after the group downed shutters without repaying lakhs of investors, who had parked their hard-earned money in the group's companies, lured by the promise of astronomically high returns.
The scandal, said to be the biggest to hit the state, led to a spate of suicides by agents of the Saradha Group and depositors who had lost their life's savings.