The Bengal Scam Haul So Far. And Counting?

Last Updated: July 28, 2022, 13:42 IST

The saga started with the first ED raid at Arpita Mukherjee’s Diamond City Complex home in south Kolkata on July 22. (Twitter/@dir_ed)

Cash, gold, property documents, foreign currency and mystery diaries have been recovered from properties belonging to Arpita Chatterjee, the aide of arrested West Bengal minister Partha Chatterjee

The political snowstorm over the West Bengal School Service Commission scam has snowballed to the extent that leaders within Partha Chatterjee’s Trinamool Congress are demanding the sacking of the state minister arrested by the Enforcement Directorate.

Chatterjee was arrested by the central agency last week along with his aide Arpita Mukherjee. Cash worth nearly Rs 50 crore, gold, property documents and foreign currency were recovered from the latter’s premises during raids.

While the ED is tracking the money trail, the case is being probed by the CBI on the orders of the Calcutta High Court. The alleged irregularities pertain to recruitment of Group C and D staff as well as teachers in government-sponsored and aided schools on recommendations of the West Bengal School Service Commission (SSC). Chatterjee was the education minister when the alleged irregularities took place.

As the TMC tries to navigate its biggest crisis in recent years with the opposition BJP and CPM breathing down its neck, News18 takes a look at the seizures made in the case so far:

Diamond City Complex | July 22

  • The saga started with the first ED raid at Arpita Mukherjee’s Diamond City Complex home in south Kolkata on July 22, during which officials allegedly recovered cash and supporting documents. The ED had to seek the help of RBI’s regional office in Kolkata to ferry the cash and valuables to the agency’s office at CGO complex at Salt Lake
  • According to reports, the cash recovered from the premises totalled Rs 21.20 crore in Rs 500 and Rs 2,000 denominations. Foreign currencies worth Rs 60 lakh was also reportedly recovered during the raid
  • Gold ornaments worth Rs 90 lakh are said to have been seized
  • Other items seized reportedly included 20 high-end Apple iPhones, sale deeds of eight flats and documents of multiple high-end passenger vehicles
  • ED officials are also said to have recovered two diaries — a black executive diary and one pocket diary. The black executive diary reportedly flaunted the title “Department of Education- Government of West Bengal”. Reports say both diaries are full of coded messages. An IANS report quoted ED sources as saying that the handwriting in both diaries matches neither that of Chatterjee not Mukherjee

The Belgharia Flat

  • Arpita Mukherjee’s Belgharia flat on the northern outskirts of Kolkata was searched by the ED on July 28. According to reports, bundles of cash in Rs 500 and Rs 2,000 denominations were recovered from the cupboard of a bedroom in the premises
  • The ED reportedly recovered Rs 27.90 crore in cash from the property. Officials have been quoted as saying that currency counting machines, which can count 1,000 notes at one go in a minute, took till the next morning to count the entire haul
  • Gold bars and ornaments weighing a total of 6 kg were also allegedly seized. The total value of the gold is estimated to be Rs 4 crore
  • Several silver coins were also reportedly recovered from Chatterjee’s Belgharia residence, but the market value of these is yet to be ascertained

A report by news agency IANS has quoted ED sources as saying that Arpita Mukherjee confessed in custody that she was “forced” by West Bengal minister Partha Chatterjee to allow her properties to be used to store the illegal cash.

“She has confessed that Chatterjee used to come to both her Tollygunge and Belgharia residences once or even twice a week, and during his visits, he was accompanied by a person unknown to her. Mukherjee has also confessed that she did not even have access to the keys of the cupboards from where the cash recoveries were made. There were strict instructions from Chatterjee not to fiddle with the cupboards and also avoid frequenting the rooms where these cupboards were,” the report quoted an ED official as saying.

A combination image shows cash and jewellery recovered by ED officials from the residence of Arpita Mukherjee, a close aide of West Bengal Minister Partha Chatterjee. (PTI)

ED officials suspect that the assets recovered from the properties of Arpita Mukherjee are just a small portion of the actual reserve. The documents seized in the raids so far reportedly hint at large amount of cash transfers by Mukherjee via private agents. The documents also allegedly suggest cash transfers through the hawala route to Bangladesh.

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