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Saradha scam: ED to file first charge sheet by July

Saradha scam: ED to file first charge sheet by July

The Enforcement Directorate (ED) is expected to file its first charge sheet in the multi-crore Saradha chit fund scam by July this year even as latest investigations by the agency have found a "documented" money trail of Rs 700-800 crore between some top politicians and officials of the defunct group.

The Enforcement Directorate (ED) is expected to file its first charge sheet in the multi-crore Saradha chit fund scam by July this year even as latest investigations by the agency have found a "documented" money trail of Rs 700-800 crore between some top politicians and officials of the defunct group.

The agency, which has begun recording the statement of a number of MPs and politicians of West Bengal, Assam and Odisha over the past few weeks, has pegged the magnitude of the scam and loss to the depositors at Rs 2,500 crore.

"The ED will file the first charge sheet in the Saradha case by July this year. The charge sheet will be based on investigations made till now and statements recorded by the ED of some politicians and MPs involved in the scam and will be submitted before a competent court," sources privy to the development told PTI.

The central probe agency, which has registered a case under the provisions of the Prevention of Money laundering Act (PMLA) in the alleged Saradha financial irregularities and fraud, has also found evidence of a suspicious money trail of about Rs 700-800 crore.

"These evidence will be a part of the first charge sheet by the ED. The trail of the suspicious funds have been tracked through information obtained from various banks and the Financial Intelligence Unit of the Union Finance Ministry," the sources said.

The agency, the sources said, has also prepared an assessment report in this case which pegs the scam's value and loss to investors at Rs 2,500 crore.

The scam, which will be probed by CBI following a recent direction of the Supreme Court, was being perpetrated largely in West Bengal, Odisha and Assam and came to the fore early last year after duped investors raised their voice of grievance.

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

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

His son and wife were arrested recently from Kolkata by the ED. The agency has also attached assets worth Rs 140 crore of individuals and firms on money laundering charges in this case.

The ED has till now issued attachment orders under PMLA on all equity shares of all 224 companies of the Saradha group, insurance policies in the name of Sen and his wife, numerous land properties and plots, 390 bank accounts and equity shares of a TV channel run by the beleaguered group.

The agency has also issued a public advisory that no one should "transact" in these attached assets without seeking permission of the ED.

A host of agencies like the Corporate Affairs Ministry's Serious Fraud Investigation Office (SFIO), Income Tax department, Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) and special police units of the three states are probing the case.


first published:May 11, 2014, 14:49 IST