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Mathew Samuel says K.D. Singh funded Narada sting

LiveMint logoLiveMint 08-06-2017 Arkamoy Dutta Majumdar

Kolkata: As the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) starts to send notices to Trinamool Congress leaders asking them to turn up for questioning over the Narada News controversy, Mathew Samuel, the journalist behind the sting operation, said it was conceived in 2014 in consultation with Kanwar Deep Singh, a Rajya Sabha MP.

Singh who was elected to the Rajya Sabha in 2014 with support from the Trinamool Congress had at that time invested in Tehelka magazine and was looking to revive it. Samuel was employed with the magazine. It was decided in consultation with Tehelka’s management, “of which Singh was a part”, that a sting operation would be conducted, Samuel said in a phone interview on Thursday.

Asked how he managed to fund the sting operation in which several top Trinamool Congress leaders were seen taking money, Samuel said he was asked to ring a New Delhi office of the Alchemist Group, of which Singh used to be chairman emeritus. Every time he needed money, Samuel would ring the office, which is alleged to have taken public deposits, and cash was delivered to him in Kolkata, he added.

The revelation came on a day Iqbal Ahmed, a Trinamool Congress legislator and Kolkata’s deputy mayor, received a CBI summons to appear before it on Saturday for questioning. When contacted, Ahmed said he had received a notice from the CBI but that he had not yet decided whether to go.

Singh could not immediately be contacted—he remained incommunicado.

Samuel said there were several potential targets for the sting operation but he chose Trinamool Congress leaders because of the ongoing controversy at that time over the now-defunct Saradha Group, another deposit taking firm. Several top leaders of the party are currently facing probe for allegedly helping the Saradha and Rose Valley groups ply Ponzi schemes.

The CBI in April started a case against 12 top Trinamool Congress leaders under various sections of the Prevention of Corruption Act and the Indian Penal Code, after being ordered to conduct a probe into the Narada News controversy by the Calcutta high court. CBI’s FIR, or first information report, says investigation was being launched against Trinamool Congress leaders “for habitual acceptance of illegal gratification”.

A CBI officer in Kolkata said the agency is digging into the personal assets of the all the leaders named in the FIR and others linked to them. The scope of the investigation has been expanded to determine if these leaders have amassed wealth exploiting their public office which is disproportionate with their known sources of income, this person added, asking not to be named.

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