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Mamata sets up fund for duped Saradha investors

Govt to form a Rs 500-cr fund, 30% of which will come from 10% tax on cigarettes

BS Reporter  |  Kolkata 

In an unprecedented move, the West Bengal government today said that it would form a Rs 500 crore relief fund for the small and medium depositors of Saradha, 30% of which would come from a 10% tax on cigarettes.

“I am very sorry, but I have to do this,” Bengal Chief Minister, Mamata Banerjee, said at a press conference. She however, did not elaborate, where the rest of the fund would come from. The relief fund was aimed at refunding small and medium depositors of Saradha, who had been left in the lurch.

The state government balm came on a day, an 18-page letter by Sudipta Sen to the Central Bureau of Investigation nailed two Trinamool members of Parliament.

“I am not having confidence on anybody who will take steps on unscrupulous persons out of whom many are well connected at top bureaucratic level, police level and political levels,” mentioned the letter dated April 6, to which Business Standard has access to.

The explosive letter says how the Saradha promoter forayed into media. He claimed that attack by Bengali newspaper, Pratidin, against him led to the foray. Sen bought Channel 10, then a regional news channel for Rs 24 crore, which had hidden liabilities.

Thereafter a deal was struck with Pratidin. According to the contours of the agreement Pratidin would be paid Rs 60 lakh, Ghosh would be appointed CEO at a salary of Rs 15 lakh a month. They also decided to make actor Mithun Chakraborty brand ambassador for Rs 20 lakh. The letter, however, clarified that Chakraborty did not participate in any function apart from one talk show.

“Pratidin has also given my assurance that execution of this agreement they will protect my business from the government 1.e. state and central government and I will be able to get a smooth passage and they assured me that they have very close connection with present CM of West Bengali.1e. Ms For the last two years Pratidin have been taken from me represented by Srinjoy Bose the managing director of Pratidin Publication and Pratidin Television Media Pvt Ltd a sum of Rs 20 crore (approx) most of the payment made by cheque or RTGS. Various time they have taken cash under various causes shown to me and also apart from that for running the channel for last 3 years including the payment of ISRO and MSO (cable operators) not less than Rs 2 crore per month,” the letter said.

The letter, though apparently, has embarrassed the TMC-run state government, conspiracy theories are abound.

“This is a got-up case. I am told that the TMC leadership dictated this letter. They just wanted to get rid of these two MPs and hence the letter mentions them,” Opposition leader, Surjya Kanta Mishra said.

First Published: Wed, April 24 2013. 19:38 IST