The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on Thursday arrested Shrikant Mohta, a well-known producer of popular Bengali films, in connection with the Rose Valley chit fund scam.
Sources said that the ongoing CBI investigation into Rose Valley revealed that the accused allegedly misappropriated around Rs 24 crore in the name of producing films and syphoned off this money, which was illegally collected by Rose Valley's ponzi schemes from the residents of West Bengal, Assam, Odisha and other states.
The investigating agency has further alleged that Mohta invested part of the funds in the procurement of paintings through a private films company and he also foisted other accused persons in ponzi scheme cases to make similar purchases.
Mohta will be produced before the court of Special CJM, CBI Cases, Bhubaneswar, on Friday.
Initially, the CBI questioned him at his office in Kolkata. Thereafter, he was detained and taken to the CBI's office in Salt Lake as the agency allegedly found discrepancies in his answers.
Sources said during the Rs 15,000-crore Rose Valley chit fund probe, CBI officials found exchange of money between Mohta and Gautam Kundu, founder of Rose Valley, and the agency wanted to question the film producer. However, Mohta had been ignoring several notices sent by the CBI.
The CBI has already arrested Kundu and other Rose Valley officials.
On Thursday, CBI officials first went to Mohta's house to question him but it was found that he was in his office. Thereafter, investigating officers rushed to his office for questioning.
However, SVF Entertainment claimed that the CBI, in the past few months, had called Mohta for investigation in the Rose Valley chit fund matter as a witness, owing to past business transactions between SVF and Brand Value (a Rose Valley Group company) and on account of past legal cases on the same matter, where the Calcutta High Court had quashed all charges alleged against Mohta and the same was affirmed by the Supreme Court of India.
"Mohta appeared before CBI twice in the past as a witness and fully cooperated with the investigation. However, on account of personal reasons, he was not able to appear before CBI in the month of January. This was communicated to CBI with a request to grant him time of 15 days. Mohta even offered his cooperation to CBI in the interim period by requesting them to provide any information required by CBI from him. Today (Thursday) morning, however, few CBI officials came to our office unannounced to interrogate Mohta on the same matter. With the intention to cooperate, Mohta went along with them to their office. We have now been informed that he has been detained by the CBI," a statement from SVF Entertainment said.
"We strongly and categorically deny and object to any accusations alleged against Mohta. We have full faith in the judiciary and it remains our endeavour to support and cooperate with the enforcement agencies in the course of their investigation," the statement added.
Mohta, 45, is a director and co-founder at SVF Entertainment and digital entertainment platform Hoichoi. He is considered the creative muscle of the company and has over 125 film productions to his credit. These films include five National Award winners and various blockbusters of the past two decades.
It is also alleged that Mohta has illegally encroached upon land belonging to the Kolkata Port Trust and built a studio there.