Saradha scam: CBI registers 46 cases in West Bengal, Odisha
The CBI has registered 43 cases in Odisha while three in West Bengal in connection with the nationwide multi-crore Saradha chit fund scam on Wednesday.
Those named in the FIR include Debjani Banerjee (executive director-Saradha Group), Manoj Nagel (director), Aurobindo Chauhan (driver of Saradha Group), Somnath Datta (vice president of Saradha’s media group), Arth Tatwa’s (non banking financial institution in Orissa) chief Pradip Sethi, Seashore Group (Orissa) head Prasant Das, Sudipta Sen (founder of Saradha Group) and Kunal Ghosh (Trinamool Congress’ Rajya Sabha MP).
In November 2013, the group founder Sudipta along with Debjani fled to Sonmarg in Jammu & Kashmir in a West Bengal registered SUV. It was Chauhan who drove the vehicle to Sonmarg and all of them were arrested from a resort by the officers of Bidhannagar police commissionerate.
CBI spokesperson Kanchan Prasad said, ‘The case has been registered on the directions of the apex court. Three cases have been registered under section 406, 409, 420 and 120 B of IPC against top officials of the Saradha Group of companies in West Bengal. Some of them were charged with cheating, criminal breach of trust, criminal conspiracy among others.’
She said, ‘We are scrutinising other documents related to the case for future course of action. The documents of certain companies other than the said Group of companies are in the process of collection as well as scrutiny.’
In Orissa, CBI has registered 43 cases against 43 companies and their top officials of Arth Tatwa, Seashore, Sharada Group, Green Ray, Mid East and Astha among others.
As per directions of the Supreme Court, larger conspiracy angle including the role of Regulatory Authorities and money trail in this alleged scam will also be focused upon during investigation.
Sources said, the role of regulators like Securities Exchange Board of India (SEBI), RBI and Ministry of Corporate Affairs (MCA) are also under scanner as per the orders of the apex court. On May 9, the Supreme Court has asked the CBI to probe the scam and instructed the Odisha, Assam and West Bengal governments to provide all logistical help to the probe agency.
The CBI has formed a Special Investigating Team (SIT), headed by joint director Rajeev Singh, to probe the scam including the role of SEBI, RBI and MCA.
Scanner over the regulators came following Supreme Court Justice TS Thakur’s observation, saying, ‘Investigation conducted so far puts a question mark on the role of regulatory authorities like SEBI, Registrar of Companies and officials of RBI within whose respective jurisdictions and areas of operation the scam not only took birth but flourished unhindered.’
The Saradha ponzi scheme collapsed in April 2013. The group was running a collective investment scheme locally known as chit fund which suffered an estimated loss of more Rs 250 billion to over 2 million depositors.
Following this the West Bengal government set up an inquiry commission to investigate the scam. The union government has also asked the Income Tax department to launch a multi-agency probe along with the CBI to investigate the scam.
During investigation Trinamool Congress’ MP Kunal’s was named in the scam. In November 2013 Enforcement Directorate ordered an inquiry against his involvement in the scam. Fearing arrest, Kunal came to Delhi and met former Finance minister P Chidambaram and has submitted some documents related to the chit fund pleading his innocence.
However, his effort to evade arrest failed and on 23 November, 2013. Currently most of the top officials of the firm are in jail.