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Bengal govt looking to refund money to ponzi scam victims

Kolkata: In a major development for victims who have been cheated after investing in chit funds, the Directorate of Economic Offence (DEO) is going to submit a plea before the court on the first week of February, seeking permission to return at least a part of the money of around 1 lakh investors.
The DEO is going to submit the plea before Barasat Court in connection with the case of Equinox Group.
The DEO exercises powers under the West Bengal Protection of Interest of Depositors in Financial Establishments Act (WBPIDFEA), which came into existence after the Mamata Banerjee government came to power, for securing fund of investors and to check illegal collection of money through various chit fund schemes.
It may be recalled that on May 15 in 2017, the DEO had filed its first chargesheet against the Equinox Group and mentioned names of four directors of the group, including that of Prasanta Chakraborty in Barasat Court on Monday.
The chargesheet was filed before the Additional District Session Judge, Third Court, Barasat, within 90 days of registering the case. Initially, a complaint was lodged against the group with Jagatdal police station in North 24-Parganas, after it stopped returning money to investors.
The group had its head office at Barasat in North 24-Parganas and it had been running the business of collecting money illegally through chit fund schemes since 2009. The Equinox Land Projects India Limited also had several sister companies including Equinox Infratech Limited and Samriddhi Infrastructure and Projects India Ltd.
Moreover, the group had collected around Rs 129 crore from more than 1 lakh depositors in Bengal and other states including Karnataka, Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Jharkhand.
According to sources, the DEO is now preparing to submit a plea before the court, seeking permission to return at least a certain percentage of money to investors, by selling the seized properties of the group.
It has been learnt that if the court gives its nod in this connection, then the DEO will be selling out the seized properties of the group and give money back to the investors. The DEO has prepared the asset liability statement and it has already been submitted to the court.
According to a senior officer of the DEO, the directorate had sought letters from investors with all required documents. So far, approximately 70,000 investors have approached the DEO and the number is expected to increase.

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