WB aid to Saradha group investors

More than 1,000 people duped in one of the biggest scams

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Thursday gave a ray of hope to more than 1,000 duped investors by announcing that the state government would start distributing compensation to them from September 30.

The investors will get money from the Rs 500-crore corpus fund at a programme at the Khudiram Anushilan Kendra in Kolkata on September 30, Banerjee said.

The government will try to give compensation to another one lakh depositors in the following 10 to 12 days and hopes to give compensation to another three to four lakh depositors after Diwali.

Meanwhile, sources said the Enforcement Directorate (ED) will soon begin its investigation into various aspects of the multi-crore Saradha chit fund scam, which is already being probed by the Kolktata Police and other police teams in West Bengal.

The scam is estimated to involve Rs 22,000 crore and bigwigs like Saradha Group chief Sudipta Sen and executive director Debjani Mukherjee. The ED is the first central agency to start investigations into the scam due to its size and multi-state nature, sources said.

Sources said the Kolkata Police had charged Sen and Debjani with money laundering besides booking them under many other cases. However, a city court dismissed the case noting that the police cannot file cases under the particular Act.

Looking at the scope of the Act being used to successfully frame charges against the two, the ED recently charged the two Saradha directors under sections 3 and 4 of the Money Laundering Act. “A city court remanded Mukherjee to ED’s custody till October 1,” her lawyer Anirban Guha Thakurta told reporters.

Given the ED’s jurisdiction, the court handed Debjani over to the central agency and gave seven days for the interrogation. According to sources, during the next hearing of the case, the ED will request the court for Sen’s custody.

According to sources, the ED, under the Union Finance Ministry, actually plans to take Sen into custody but wants some first-hand information from Debjani before it is ready to grill him. Both Sen and Debjani, along with one more director of the shady group, were apprehended from Kashmir in April this year.

The Saradha scandal, one of the biggest financial scams to hit Bengal in recent times, came to light in April.

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