Another feather in CBI’s corrupt cap
Even as the government mulls laws to deal with chit funds more strongly, it seems the mother of all scams, Nirmal Singh Bhangoo-led Pearls Group’s Rs 47,000-crore ponzi scheme, has had a rather lenient truck with the authorities. Not only has the CBI sat on its FIR dated 19 February 2014 against Bhangoo for allegedly ‘duping five crore customers by promising them land, goods and quick money, there have been no arrest or custodial interrogation so far on this gargantuan nexus of fraud and money laundering. It is astonishing since the governments, both the current one and the previous UPA-II regime, have shown a rather hardnosed approach to ‘curb’ ponzi schemers, chiefly Saradha group’s Rs 10,000 crore worth chit fund scam. But at five times the size and scale of Saradha, Pearls group’s illegal activities and blatant misuse of political connections, bribing to the tune of over Rs 100 crores as well as setting acres of high-value real estate in prime locations of Australia as well as in Indian states of Punjab, Rajasthan, Assam, among others, have gone unnoticed by officials. This, despite SEBI categorically ordering Pearls Goup to return investors’ money worth Rs 29,420 crore to those cheated and trapped into this land and property scam. Moreover, it had also asked Pearls Group to wind up its operations in two weeks after it had passed the order. Yet more water has flown since then and Bhangoo has not even been held for a night.
It is pertinent to ask why the CBI has not felt the need to carry out a proper investigation despite hot piping allegations against the group and its MD Bhangoo. ‘Beneficiaries’ of this enormous network of financial fraudulence include the high and the mighty of Indian politics, particularly a prominent politician based in Punjab. In fact, as Millennium Post first reported (in its edition dated 13 October 2014), sources have claimed that beneficiaries might have included some black sheep within the top probing agency and SEBI as well. Given that Rs 47,000 crore is almost 500 per cent more than what was at stake, say in a Saradha scam, why the unwarranted lack of zeal in examining the case? In fact, instead of being probed, Pearls Group has been sponsoring gala sporting events, or congratulating union ministers in national dailies. Moreover, nearly 1000 bank accounts belonging to Pearls Group have been frozen to avoid investigation by orders from top quarters. Yet the poor investor from Haryana or Rajasthan, Assam or Odisha, has been cheated of his hard-earned and only savings. Doesn’t he deserve justice?