Saradha Scam: CBI summons Rajeev Kumar to appear before it at its Kolkata office today


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New Delhi:

A team of the CBI on Sunday reached the residence of former Kolkata Police Commissioner Rajeev Kumar over the Saradha Chit Fund scam and handed over a letter, asking him to be present at the CGO Complex in Kolkata CBI office on Monday. The CBI team reached his residence to serve the notice after it reportedly tried to contact him over phone. but they could not contact him. CBI official Manish Upadhya led the team of four officials, who later reached the DC South Kolkata.

This came hours after Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) issued a look-out notice against former Kolkata Police Commissioner Rajeev Kumar for his alleged connection with the multi-crore Saradha scam. The apex investigating agency has alerted all airports and immigration authorities not to allow the IPS officer to leave the country for a year and to detain him if he tries to travel abroad.

The CBI wants custodial interrogation of Kumar, a 1989-batch IPS officer, in connection with Rs 2500 crore Saradha ponzi scam. He is accused of tampering of evidence and attempting to protect certain politicians from an investigation into the scam. He was heading the Special Investigation Team of West Bengal Police to probe the case before CBI took over.

The SIT was formed by the Mamata Banerjee government in 2013. In 2014, the top court transferred the case to the CBI.

The CBI had told the Supreme Court that custodial interrogation of Kumar was necessary as he was not cooperating with the probe and he was ‘evasive’ and ‘arrogant’ in answering queries put to him during his questioning by the agency.

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, who was appearing for the CBI had said Kumar was the in-charge of investigation by the SIT and had allowed the release of mobile phones and laptops, containing crucial records of alleged involvement of political functionaries in the scam, which were seized from the accused.

Mehta had said the seized mobile phones and laptops were not even sent for forensic examination and material evidence was destroyed in the case

The top court had last month asked CBI to furnish evidence for seeking custodial interrogation of Kumar in the Saradha case, saying it has to be satisfied that the agency's request was ‘bona fide’ and not for ‘political purposes’.

The top court on May 17 had withdrawn protection given to Kumar from any arrest and had asked the CBI to proceed as per law.

"We have withdrawn the protection given to Rajeev Kumar vide order dated February 5,” the bench headed by Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi had said but gave a week's time to Kumar to approach competent court for anticipatory bail.

Kumar had again approached the Supreme Court on May 20 seeking extension of protection claiming that the courts in West Bengal were not functioning due to lawyers' strike.

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This petition was rejected following which Kumar had approached a Kolkata court with an anticipatory bail.?

In the last week of January, the Centre and West Bengal government faced an unprecedented standoff after a CBI team which reached the residence of Kumar, then Kolkata police commissioner, for questioning him had to retreat after local police refused to let it enter and detained its officers.

Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee came in the defence of Kumar and started a sit-in to protest against the Centre's move.

The Supreme Court on February 5 had prevented the agency from any coercive action against Kumar and directed him to appear and co-operate in CBI questioning at a "neutral place".

He was questioned by the CBI for nearly five days at its office in Shillong from February 9 onwards.

The Saradha group of companies duped lakhs of customers promising higher rates of returns on their investment, the CBI has alleged.

Similar modus operandi was adopted by other ponzi companies like Rose Valley operating in West Bengal, Odisha and North Eastern states where gullible investors were duped, it said.

The Supreme Court had ordered a CBI probe in which the agency has allegedly detected collusion of scheme operators, police personnel, politicians among others, the officials had said.

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