CBI arrests Bengali film producer in Rose Valley scam, TMC alleges vendetta
The CBI arrested renowned Bengali film producer Shrikant Mohta on Thursday in connection with the Rose Valley chit fund scam, sources said.
Kolkata: The CBI arrested renowned Bengali film producer Shrikant Mohta on Thursday in connection with the Rose Valley chit fund scam, sources said.
Mohta, considered close to the ruling Trinamool Congress (TMC) in West Bengal, allegedly duped Rose Valley of Rs 25 crore.
While the TMC criticised the arrest, saying "no one is being spared in the Narendra Modi regime", opposition parties demanded an explanation from the ruling party for the arrest.
Mohta's company denied the accusations against him.
Mohta was served a notice by the investigating agency regarding "acceptance of money from Rose Valley" and CBI sleuths questioned him in his office at a shopping mall in south Kolkata.
Later, they took him to the CBI office at the CGO Complex in Salt Lake for further interrogation, where he was placed under arrest.
The agency is probing both the Saradha and Rose Valley multi-crore-rupee scams. The Enforcement Directorate is also probing the Rose Valley scam.
Rose Valley chairman Gautam Kundu is currently in jail in a money-laundering case.
Mohta's company, the SVF (previously known as Sri Venkatesh Films), has produced many award-winning films like "Chokher Bali", "Memories In March", "Autograph", "Raincoat" and "Iti Mrinalini". The firm also distributes most Bollywood and Hollywood movies in eastern India.
Some of the top actors and directors in the Indian film industry have worked with Mohta.
In a statement issued in the evening, the SVF denied the allegations raised against Mohta and said the company's co-owner offered his full cooperation to the CBI.
"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 SVF said.
The statement said the CBI, in the last few months, had called Mohta for investigation in the Rose Valley chit fund case as a witness owing to past business transactions between the SVF and Brand Value, a Rose Valley Group company.
Regarding the past cases on the matter, the statement claimed that the Calcutta High Court had quashed all charges against Mohta and the same was affirmed by the Supreme Court.
On account of personal reasons, he was not able to appear before the CBI in the month of January and it was communicated to the agency with a request to grant him 15 days' time, it said, adding that some CBI officials came to the SVF office "unannounced" to interrogate Mohta on the same matter.
"With an intention to cooperate, Mohta went along with them to their office," the statement said.
Mohta's arrest triggered a war of words between the TMC and other parties.
"They are arresting and trying to intimidate everybody. Be it a writer, an actor, a film personality.... They do not want to spare anyone. People will give them a befitting reply," TMC secretary general Partha Chatterjee said.
The BJP had turned the CBI into their extended party office, he claimed.
Senior TMC leaders, who did not want to be quoted, alleged that the BJP was trying to pursue its vendetta politics through these arrests.
"The CBI should have arrested him earlier. The CBI is doing its work. But whenever it makes an arrest, the TMC raises baseless allegations of vendetta politics," state BJP president Dilip Ghosh said.
State Congress president Somen Mitra said, "Mohta used to boast about his connections with top TMC leaders. He was close to various top TMC leaders in the state."
Senior CPI(M) leader Sujan Chakraborty said several TMC leaders were arrested earlier for their alleged involvement in the scam and now, those considered close to the party were being arrested.