A sizable portion of the multi-crore scam proceeds were invested in the Tollywood film industry, according to the Enforcement Directorate (ED), which on Friday disclosed this to the special Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) court here. The scam involved the hiring of teaching and non-teaching staff in various state-run schools in West Bengal.
A number of Tollywood actors and actresses allegedly received payments totaling up to Rs 6.50 crore from two bank accounts held by expelled and detained Trinamool Congress youth leader Kuntal Ghosh over a period of time.
One such Tollywood actor, Bonny Sengupta aka Anupiryo Sengupta, admitted accepting Rs 40 lakh from Ghosh to buy a car, but by late Thursday night, he had already returned that sum.
No other actor or actress who has received payment from Ghosh has, however, offered a defence on this point. According to sources, the investigators from the central agency will call them in the upcoming days to question them.
The ED counsel claimed that despite numerous requests for the source of such enormous funds, Ghosh had not come forward with any firm responses.
“The entire money does not become legal if one earns Rs 5 crore through illegal means and then pays tax on Rs 2 crore,” the judge noted.
In the meantime, the ED has already frozen 10 bank accounts belonging to Ghosh and 15 bank accounts belonging to another expelled and arrested young Trinamool leader, Santanu Bandopadhyay, from which ED investigators discovered transactions totaling several crores of rupees.
The special court finally extended Ghosh’s judicial custody until March 30 after hearing arguments on both sides.