Saradha Scam: Nightmare For Many, Is Back
The Saradha scam which followed the suit is giving sleepless nights to many in the corporate world and many members of the ruling party in Bengal, as the CBI probe seems to be opening a new chapter every new day
The most talked about chit-fund scam in recent past in Bengal—the Saradha Scam—is back again and with each passing day, it is turning out to be the worst nightmare for many big wigs in Bengal.
The scam which followed the suit is giving sleepless nights to many in the corporate world and many members of the ruling party in Bengal, as the CBI probe seems to be opening a new chapter every new day.
Although one year has passed since the resurfacing of the scam, the investigation done by state investigative agencies was without results. But after the Supreme Court order to take up the matter by Central agencies like Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and the Enforcement Directorate (ED), the investigation into the scam has started digging deeper into the multi-crore muck, arresting and interrogating suspects.
It can be assumed that the Saradha Scam is going to be the biggest financial scandal of the state and which will give the ruling Trinmool Congress government and its leader Mamata Banerjee, a big setback in coming days.
The opposition parties in Bengal are reclaiming lost grounds and are sniffing a chance to stage a comeback. In an election campaign recently, the Bharatiya Janata Party National President, Amit Shah, accused the TMC involvement in the Saradha scam, when he launched an attack asserting that the central government will not leave anyone and will ensure that the guilty be brought to the book.
He further raised a question: “You (Mamata) are not protesting against duping of 17 lakh investors in the Saradha scam and coming down on the streets, because your own associates and stooges are involved. We need an answer as to who took away the Saradha scam money. “We are not afraid of anyone because our workers are not involved in any scam. Whether it’s Saradha or anything else, we will do the work of arresting and putting the culprits behind bars,” Shah told in his first campaign rally in Kolkata, as the chief of the party.
On the other hand, the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) state Secretariat member Sujan Chakraborty demanded a central government probe into allegations that the Saradha Group scam money was channelised to Bangladesh to fund terror acts against India and challenged West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, to seek a clean chit from the CBI on the scandal.
State Congress President, Adhir Chowdhury, went on to demand Mamata should step down till the CBI gave her a clean chit. “She (Mamata) should step down immediately. The way her name got dragged into the scam, it would be a loss of face for Bengal if she still remains chief minister,” he said. After keeping silent for some time, Mamata Banerjee finally said that Trinamool Congress (TMC) “has not taken” a penny from the scam-hit Saradha Group and also accused the Opposition parties of protecting the “real culprits”.
In an interview to a local television channel recently, she questioned the political parties who raised doubts over her honesty and integrity “When did the Saradha scam happen? It happened when the Left was in power. So many other chit fund scams happened during the Left Front rule (1977-2011)—like Sanchayini and Sanchaita.”
The ill-effect of this scam on the ruling TMC has started showing its color. Recently, during the by-poll for two Assembly seats in Bengal, the BJP managed to win Bashirhat seat, giving the party an entry into the state Assembly.
Main Accused In Saradha Scam
Sudipto Sen was the chairman and managing director of the Saradha Group. Ahead of the collapse of Saradha Group, Sen wrote one letter to CBI hurling serious allegations against suspended MP of Trinmool Congress (TMC) Kunal Ghosh. Sen wrote he had paid large sums of money to several politicians. He also stated that TMC leader Kunal Ghosh had forced him to enter into money-losing media ventures. Kunal Ghosh allegedly blackmailed Sen and forced him to sell one of his channels at below market price. After posting this letter to CBI on April 10, 2013, Sen fled from Kolkata. Later he along with two other aides was arrested from Kashmir. Currently he has been lodged in a jail in Kolkata.
Suspended TMC MP, Kunal Ghosh was arrested by the CBI in connection with the Saradha Chit fund Scam. He reportedly used to draw a salary of INR 1.6 million per month from Saradha Group. He was the CEO of the media group run by Saradha Group. He recently made demands before the TMC leadership to set up an internal probe committee within 72 hours to look into the role of others in the scam.
She joined Saradha Group as a receptionist in 2010. However, she rose rapidly to be the number two in the company. Mukherjee was one of the executive directors of Saradha Group who had the power to sign cheques on behalf of the group. She was arrested together with Sudipto Sen.
What is Saradha chit-fund scam
The Saradha Group financial scandal is popularly known as Saradha Chit fund Scam. It’s a financial scam that was caused by the collapse of a Ponzi scheme run by Saradha Group in 2013. Saradha Group is a consortium of over 200 private companies. All 200 companies were running a wide variety of collective investment schemes (chit fund) throughout East India, especially in West Bengal, Odisha and Assam. Collapse of Saradha Group in 2013 caused a loss of Rs 200-300 billion to over 17 lakh investors. Enforcement Directorate has completed its investigation of the scam. Currently, the CBI is probing the scam.
What is Ponzi scheme?
Ponzi scheme is fraudulent investment operation. An individual or organisation (operator) invites investors to invest money into the scheme. Operator pays returns to its investors from new capital paid to the operators by new investors. Operators do not pay returns to investors from profit earned by the operator. Operators of such schemes usually entice new investors by offering higher returns than other investments.
Investments in Ponzi scheme are done in the form of short term returns that are either abnormally high or unusually consistent.
Trinamool Congress’s connection with Saradha Scam
After Kunal Ghosh, the CBI on Sept 10, 2014 grilled TMC Rajya Sabha MP Srinjoy Bose. Bose was the CEO of Sangbad Protidin (Bengali Newspaper). The CBI on Sept 9, 2014 also arrested former Director General of Armed Police, Rajat Majumdar in connection with the scam. Majumdar is also a powerful leader of TMC. CBI also questioned close associate of TMC leader Mukul Roy and Asif Khan. A day after his interrogation by the CBI, Khan resigned from his post in TMC. Earlier, Enforcement Directorate had also interrogated popular actor Mithun Chakraborty. He is a TMC MP and was engaged as the brand ambassador of Saradha Group’s Media platform.
Trinmool Congress is sniffing it as a planned strategy by the BJP to use CBI, who is in the power in the centre to malign the state and its ruling party facilitating the hold of BJP in the state of West Bengal. But the million dollar question remains, that although years after years investigations are on, political parties are after each other. What about the fate of 17 lakh investors who lost their life-time saving in the whole scam?
By Joydeep Dasgupta from Kolkata