The Enforcement Directorate (ED) in a note presented before a special court on Wednesday claimed that incumbent Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s nephew, TMC MP from Diamond Harbor Abhishek Banerjee and his family received illicit funds from illegal coal mining in the state. It further stated that the “deep system” of political patronage driven by “well-oiled” machinery made it possible, as reported by News18.
The note which was a remand note seeking enhanced custody of a West Bengal police officer Ashok Kumar Mishra, the inspector in charge of Bankura police station had a detailed mention of these allegations.
The ED, in this remand note, alleged that certain illegal mining instances were flourishing in the state under the “patronage” of the political party in power. The policeman led the agency to the prime suspect- Majhi alias Lala, a local trader, Vinay a TMC youth wing leader, and his brother Vikas Mishra. The ED has stated that the link goes all the way up to Abhishek Banerjee’s family.
The case was filed in the ED under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) after studying a November 2020 FIR of the CBI alleging a multi-crore coal scam related to the Eastern Coalfields Ltd mines in Bengal’s Kunustoria and Kajora areas in and around Asansol.
The Diamond Harbor MP Abhishek Banerjee however rubbished all allegations made against him and his family.
“All coal assets fall directly under Centre & are guarded by the Central agencies. If BJP thinks TMC leaders got money from those illegally operating the coal assets, then what’s stopping Centre from investigating all culprits who failed to manage these national assets?” Banerjee justified in a Tweet.
All coal assets fall directly under Centre & are guarded by the Central agencies.— Abhishek Banerjee (@abhishekaitc) April 5, 2021
If BJP thinks TMC leaders got money from those illegally operating the coal assets, then what’s stopping Centre from investigating all culprits who failed to manage these national assets? (1/2)
Findings from ED’s investigation:
The ED in the statement informed, “…it is further revealed that in a span of less than 2 years, an amount to the tune of Rs 1,352 crore has been illegally generated by Majhi through illegal coal mining. Investigation also revealed a deep system of political patronage and well-oiled network by which the system was subverted to carry out these illegal activities in a brazen manner.”
On the basis of a recorded statement of an unidentified “close associate” of Majhi, the ED alleged that the kingpin of this coal scam ran the “illegal coal mining business smoothly by managing senior functionaries of the political party of West Bengal though Inspector Mishra.”
The statement of the witness further revealed, “it is known fact that Vinay Mishra collected money from illegal coal mining of Majhi and his associates for his closely associated political boss in present ruling party; that Vinay Mishra is youth leader of TMC and he is very close to Abhishek Banerjee and that he (Vinay Mishra) is the eyes and ears of Abhishek Banerjee.”
The ED also attached statements of Bankura policeman Ashok Mishra where he stated, “Vinay Mishra was the secretary of TMC and was very close to Member of Parliament Abhishek Banerjee.” The policeman informed the ED that he once transferred a certain amount from the state to Delhi on the directions of Vinay Mishra. He said he had to do so under political pressure otherwise his career would have been finished by the powerful leaders.
Inspector Mishra’s recorded statement also revealed that he had once facilitated transferring of funds through a non-banking channel from India to London for a close relative of Abhishek Banerjee and the funds were transferred by Niraj Singh who happens to be the prime accused Majhi’s accountant.
The agency further informed, “Majhi assisted in transferring substantial funds derived from the proceeds of crime to Shri Abhishek Banerjee’s close relative (wife and sister-in-law) at London and Thailand. The inspector became part of the evil axis of the coal mafia, corrupt politicians, and corrupt government servants…and evidence is there about him receiving tainted funds of Rs 168 crore in just 109 days from Majhi and for his political bosses including Vinay Mishra and for himself. He is a government official but worked closely with the coal mafia and involved in transferring the tainted funds collected from illegal coal mining business to the overseas bank accounts of politically influential persons and their close family members of West Bengal.”
The case picked up steam after Abhishek Banerjee’s wife Rujira Banerjee was questioned by the CBI a while back.