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Saradha scam worth Rs 2,460 cr; owner in control of deposits: Probe

Source: PTI
October 20, 2013 13:58 IST
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The alleged chit fund scam in West Bengal involving the Saradha Group revolves around a total sum of Rs 2,460 crore with 80 per cent of the depositors' monies still remaining unpaid, a latest investigation report has revealed.

The report also states that the arrested Saradha chairman Sudipta Sen was in "total control" of all deposits made by his group companies, which are under the scanner for having perpetrated the alleged fraud.

Four companies of the Saradha Group, the report said, used to mobilise money through three schemes -- 'fixed deposit', 'recurring deposit' and 'monthly income deposit' -- which lured innocent depositors with promises of either "landed property or a foreign tour" as incentive returns.

A joint investigation report of West Bengal police and Enforcement Directorate, in possession of PTI, stated that, "the summary report (of the group) for the years 2008-12 revealed that the four companies of Saradha Group had mobilised an amount of Rs 2,459.59 crore through issuance of their policies.

"The investors were paid an amount of Rs 476.57 crore.

"As of April 16, 2013, the principal amount to be paid to the investors stood at Rs 1,983.02 crore," the report added.      

The statistics, prepared by the probe agencies after analysing the companies' business sheets and recording the statements of investors, show that 80 per cent of the depositors' money was still held up.

Sleuths found that the four Saradha Group companies, namely, Saradha Realty India Ltd, Saradha Tours and Travels Pvt Ltd, Saradha Housing Pvt Ltd and Saradha Garden Resort and Hotels Pvt Ltd were in the business of mobilising money from gullible investors.

"Investors were also given the option of encashing their investment after the specified period along with very high returns," the report said.

A total of 560 complaints have so far been filed with West Bengal police by duped investors, the report stated.

Describing the working of the scam, which broke early this year, the classified report stated that the "investigation so far carried out revealed that Sen had floated various companies, through numerous branch offices in West Bengal as also in Odisha, Assam, Jharkhand and other states to mobilise deposits from the public".

The money thus collected was deposited either through cheques in the bank account of the company concerned or by way of cash deposits in accounts with banks located at different places, including at Balasore of Odisha.

Sen was in total control of the deposits made by the branches and (he) distributed the money among various loss-making companies of Saradha Group and also invested in property across the country.

"The group had within its ambit a number of newspapers and media channels throughout India and huge sums of money were transferred to run those," the report said.

The scam, which saw lakhs of investors getting duped, came to light in April after which Sen was arrested along with two others from Sonmarg in Jammu and Kashmir.

A host of agencies like the Corporate Affairs Ministry's Serious Fraud Investigation Office, Finance Ministry's ED and Income Tax department, Securities and Exchange Board of India and special police units in WB, Assam and Odisha are probing Saradha Group's collective investment fund schemes and other depository businesses for fraud and cheating.

Image: Saradha group chairman Sudipta Sen

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