Teachers scam: ED seeks Centre’s help to get details of Manik Bhattacharya’s London property

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Kolkata, Feb 22

The Enforcement Directorate (ED), probing the multi-crore teachers' recruitment irregularities scam in West Bengal, has sought the help of the External Affairs Ministry to seek the details of property held by Trinamool Congress legislator and West Bengal Board of Primary Education's (WBBPE) former President Manik Bhattacharya in London.

The matter has also been intimated to the Union Home Ministry, sources said.

Bhattacharya is already in judicial custody over his alleged involvement in the scam. Hearing on the anticipatory bail petition by his wife Satarupa Bhattacharya and son Souvik Bhattacharya at a special Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) court on Wednesday, the matter regarding property held by Bhattacharya in London was raised by ED's counsel Phiroze Edulji.

The ED counsel informed the court of two frequent visits by Souvik Bhattacharya to London in 2017. The investigating official of ED thereafter presented some confidential documents to the court. After carefully studying the document, the judge questioned whether the Bhattacharya family had any owned residence there at London.

Thereafter the ED counsel argued that the fact that Souvik Bhattacharya applied for a special category of visa to the UK proves that his family has a owned residence there. Edulji also claimed that he was in London at short intervals in 2017 to undertake some property related task there.

The ED counsel also said that during the initial interrogation, Souvik Bhattacharya did not disclose to the investigating official about his UK trip in 2017. "However, when the investigating officers questioned him with necessary documents confirming his UK trip, he claimed that he went to London for studies. What was the reason for confiding the fact at the initial stage?" he questioned. Thereafter the ED counsel sought custodial trial of Souvik Bhattacharya.

The ED counsel also informed the court that since 2012, that is an year after Trinamool Congress regime came to power in West Bengal ousting the 34- year Left Front rule, Bhattacharya had made 20 foreign tours to different countries like China, Maldives, South Africa, UK and Malaysia, among others. However, ED claimed, the source of expenses for such overseas trips were doubtful since the money for that purpose was not withdrawn from any of the accounts held by him.

The court has reserved the order on the anticipatory bail petition by Manik Bhattacharya's wife and son.

--IANS

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