Bengal Law Minister Moloy Ghatak Refuses To Appear Before ED in Coal Scam Case

Ghatak was summoned by ED in connection with the coal scam and money laundering case.

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After Trinamool Congress MP Abhishek Banerjee and his wife Rujira Banerjee, West Bengal Law Minister Moloy Ghatak also informed the Enforcement Directorate (ED) that it is not possible for him to go to ED office in New Delhi on Tuesday, 14 September, and suggested that the ED officers come to Kolkata to interrogate him.

Ghatak was summoned by ED in connection with the coal scam and money laundering case.

'Not Possible To Be at ED's Delhi Office on Such Short Notice', Ghatak Tells ED

According to sources in the ED, the state law minister wrote a letter to the central agency that it would not be possible for him to be present at the ED office on such short notice. The minister instead proposed to record his statement in a video conference.

Ghatak's lawyer Divakar Kundu is going to Delhi. The minister informed him that he had received the notice on 10 September but the next two days were holidays followed by a cabinet meeting on 13 September. So, it was not possible to prepare all the documents so quickly.

The minister also said that as he is stationed in Kolkata and ED has an office in the city, the officers can come down to Kolkata and record his statement. The minister also said that he was ready to cooperate with the probe agency to the best of his knowledge.

After Banerjee and his wife, Ghatak is the third person to get a call from the central agency investigating the coal scam. Though Rujira refused to go to Delhi, Abhishek went to the ED office in New Delhi on 6 September and was interrogated for nine hours. He was again called on 8 September but he refused to go. The ED has issued a fresh notice and asked him to appear on 21 September.

The case, filed under criminal sections of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act, was filed by the ED after studying a November 2020 First Information Report (FIR) of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) that alleged a multi-crore coal pilferage scam related to the Eastern Coalfields Ltd mines in the state's Kunustoria and Kajora areas in and around Asansol. Local state operative Anup Majhi alias Lala is alleged to be the prime suspect in the case.

The ED had earlier claimed that Ghatak was a beneficiary of funds obtained from this illegal trade. According to ED sources, the investigators have spoken to more than one person in this connection, collected information and recorded their statements. The name of Ghatak has come up on several occasions during these interrogations. Apart from the ED, the CBI is also investigating the coal scam.

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