Millennium Post

Could RBI have prevented ponzi cos’ mass robbery?

The Enforcement Directorate, probing several scams in which deposit collecting companies (ponzi) like Saradha and Rose Valley were involved, on Tuesday said that the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) could have acted against these entities as it had the power.

‘RBI has the power to inspect and prosecute against these deposit collecting companies as it fell within its ambit given under Section 58(b) of the RBI Act. But it did not act’, a source in the ED said. He said that ED had questioned both RBI and Sebi and asked about their roles in this regard. Praising Sebi, the source said, although it did not have the power to inspect, it had started prosecution complaints against some of these companies.

‘RBI is saying that its role was merely regulatory in nature. However, we have sent RBI officials a long list of questionnaire which they are yet to give a satisfactory reply although the deadline for giving the replies is over’, he said.

The source said RBI also has enforcement powers. According to him, the replies so far given to ED ‘hides more than it speaks’. So, we have again asked them to come up with proper replies.

Saying that identification of substantial proceeds of the crime in the Saradha case was over, he said that some actions taken by the now-dissolved Shyamal Sen Commission formed by the West Bengal government to refund money to the depositors was causing a problem for going ahead with the legal process. Giving an instance, he said that the Shyamal Sen commission has asked money from the residents of one of the Saradha Group properties in South 24 Parganas Bishnupur area for registration of their apartments.

The apartment holders had paid money to the commission and got their flats registered. ‘Now as a result of this, we are facing problems in starting the adjudication process in spite of attaching the properties.’

‘We have asked for the money collected. But the money is forwarded to state government’ he said.
He said that lack of resources in the ED in terms of manpower and logistics support was also creating a hurdle.

Meanwhile, the ED had served summons to several English columnists and writers who had contributed in the Saradha group newspapers and also gone to foreign junkets. So far, ED had attached Saradha Group properties worth Rs 600 crore in West Bengal, Jharkhand, Assam and Odisha.
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