Saradha media staff lodge FIR

Last Updated: Fri, Apr 26, 2013 06:54 hrs

Adding more trouble, employees of Saradha group TV channels and publications that closed down after their chit fund business went bust have filed a case against Saradha Group chief Sudipta Sen as well as Trinamool Congress MP Kunal Ghosh in Kolkata for non-payment of their salaries, reports said.

The employees of Channel 10, a Bengali news network, have alleged that they were not paid salaries for three to eight months and the company did not deposit their contributions to the provident fund.

Other channel and publication employees also said they were not paid for months.

The employees of Channel 10 filed FIR against seven people, including Sudipta Sen and Kunal Ghosh besides some senior journalists and GM-Finance as well who they alleged were "beneficiaries of the loot that went on in the channel for years," taking it in the red.

An journalist of Channel 10 said the channel incurred huge losses owing to foreign tours by some.

In a letter to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) sent prior to his arrest, Sen had blamed blackmailing and extortion by senior politicians, especially from the TMC and Congress, for the company´s collapse.

While he named TMC MPs Srinjoy Bose and Kunal Ghosh as key beneficiaries among other leaders, Sen had also named the wife of a senior Congress leader at the Centre who he had to pay off.

However, Kunal Ghosh defended his stand by saying that he was a mere "salaried employee" and has nothing to do with the company´s chit fund business.

He said he was not in charge of the finance and only headed the editorial board.

"I never signed any cheques," Ghosh told NDTV, adding that he advocated the cause of the employees and asked Sen to clear their dues.

He said that linking his profession as a journalist to the TMC was malicious and he strongly condemned the moves which are evident in media as well.

Without naming P Chidambaram or his wife Nalini Chidambaram, the TMC raised a series of questions on its official website that attacked the Congress.

Under the headline "Why was a Chennai lady lawyer fixing deals in the Saradha scam? Congress minister must clarify", the TMC asked why Nalini Chidambaram was paid Rs 1 crore for her legal services.

The TMC´s attack came even as its political rival Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) sought a CBI probe into the multi-crore scam and called for the confiscation of the Group´s properties.

At the Centre, the Enforcement Directorate (ED) meanwhile registered a money laundering case against the Saradha Group to probe the allegations of financial irregularities by numerous depositors.

The ED registered a regular case under the provisions of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) at its Guwahati office while the Assam police has registered an FIR against the group.

The Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government at the Centre on Thursday also announced formation of a Special Task Force to investigate chit funds and related schemes.

The developments came as a Kolkata court on Thursday sent Sudipta Sen, company´s director Debjani Mukherjee and another official Arvind Singh Chauhan to 14-day police custody.

They were brought to Kolkata late on Wednesday night on a 4-day transit remand after being arrested from Kashmir.

Congress and Trinamool Congress (TMC) activists reportedly protested outside the court on Thursday.

Congress workers earlier staged protests at the Kolkata airport after Sen and others were brought here.

Sen has claimed that he was blackmailed and used by politicians mainly from West Bengal´s ruling TMC.

In his letter to the CBI, Sen reportedly said he was forced to think of committing suicide as he was being blackmailed by influential politicians who were extorting money from him.

He said he is neither liable nor has the money to refund investors.

The Jammu and Kashmir Police on Tuesday arrested Sudipta Sen, Saradha Group director Debjani Mukherjee and another official Arvind Singh Chauhan in connection with the chit fund scam in West Bengal.

Sen was absconding since Saradha Group collapsed recently.

Under attack for its supposed proximity to the Saradha Group, the TMC-led West Bengal government on Wednesday announced a Rs 500 crore fund to help some of the victims of the chit fund scam.

Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee announced a 10 percent increase in taxes on cigarettes which she said would help pay Rs 150 crores while the remaining Rs 350 crores would be arranged from other means.

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