The Communist Party of India-Marxist on Thursday demanded a CBI probe into the multi-crore chit fund scam in West Bengal and asked the state government to confiscate all properties of Saradha Group to pay off thousands of small investors left in the lurch.
"As central authorities like RBI and SEBI are involved in the process of granting licenses and maintaining an oversight on such non-banking financial companies, a probe by the state police will not do. A CBI investigation is required," senior CPM leader Sitaram Yechury told reporters.
On Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee's announcement about creating Rs 500 crore fund to pay off the investors, he said, "Relief should be provided by confiscating and auctioning Saradha Group's properties, as has been directed by the Supreme Court in the case of the Sahara Group."
He accused the state government of "giving leeway to the looters by keeping these properties with itself and not auctioning them. If the funds generated by the auction are not sufficient, only then can the state exchequer be utilised."
Maintaining that the state government was pleading for special grants from the Centre, saying it had fund shortage, Yechury asked, "why then is it not auctioning the properties of this group, including the ones held benami?"
Expressing sympathy and solidarity with all those "whose lives have been ruined" by this scam, he said the Left parties had been warning the Centre for the past few years that these firms were "looting" the poor people in West Bengal.
Left Front legislators and MPs from West Bengal had met the prime minister twice in August and December last year to raise the issue. The matter was also raised with the Election Commission during the last byelections.
The Left parties had submitted memoranda seeking steps to safeguard the interests of small investors being looted by these chit-fund companies, Yechury said.
"Why did the Centre not take any action earlier? It is simple because Trinamool Congress was a major partner in the UPA," he said.