Arpita Mukherjee, arrested along with Bengal Minister Partha Chatterjee in a school jobs scam, has reportedly claimed that he used to stash money at her home and treat it like a “mini-bank”.
Arpita Mukherjee’s lawyers are likely to deny the claims of the ED in court at the next hearing and have hit out at the agency for leaking details of their investigation to the media and pointed out the lack of convictions in cases by central agencies.
Investigators had found ₹ 21 crore in cash from the home of Arpita Mukherjee, a former actor-model and a close aide of the minister. Visuals of a large pile of cash at her home emerged a day before she and Partha Chatterjee were arrested on Saturday.
As per NDTV’s sources, Arpita Mukherjee has told the Enforcement Directorate that “all the money used to be stashed in one room that only Partha Chatterjee and his people entered”.
Sources say she claimed that the minister used to visit her home every week or every 10 days. “Partha used my house and that of another woman as a mini-bank. That other woman is also his close friend,” Arpita Mukherjee reportedly told investigators.
She claimed, according to sources, that the minister never revealed how much money there was in the room.
Arpita Mukherjee told them that she was introduced to Partha Chatterjee by a Bengali actor and that the two had been close since 2016.
Sources claim she admitted that the money came from kickbacks received for transfers and for helping colleges get recognition. And that the money was always brought by others, never the minister.
The Enforcement Directorate has reportedly found incriminating documents. The agency alleges that the minister was in contact with Ms Mukherjee and that the cash found in her home was “proceeds of crime”.
Meanwhile, the Enforcement Directorate (ED) on Wednesday made more recoveries from the residence of West Bengal Minister Partha Chatterjee’s aide Arpita Mukherjee. Fresh raids were carried out by the agency at Mukherjee’s two residences including her ancestral home in North 24 Parganas.
The ED is said to have made more recoveries from her Belghoria flat, including cash. Further details are expected soon. On Wednesday, around 12 ED officials along with the CRPF personnel arrived at Mukherjee’s Belghoria and Rathtala residences located in West Bengal’s North 24 Parganas district in a bid to find more crucial documents and cash.
Partha Chatterjee has been sent to the probe agency’s custody till August 3.
Sources say the ED also recovered an incriminating diary with around 40 pages of notes that could provide crucial leads in the investigation. The ED has also recovered several deeds of properties that could implicate Partha Chatterjee.
The minister, a top Trinamool Congress leader who used to be a close aide of Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, is accused of irregularities in the recruitment of teachers and staff in state-sponsored and aided schools.