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CBI lodges 46 FIRs in Saradha scam, more cases possible

The Central Bureau of Investigation has filed 46 First Information Reports (FIRs) in the Rs 10,000-crore Saradha chit fund scam. Neither capital markets regulator Securities and Exchange Board of India (Sebi) nor the corporate affairs ministry has been named, but CBI officials said it would look into their role, as directed by the Supreme Court.

Of the 46 cases, 43 have been filed in Odisha and three in West Bengal. More could follow. CBI has named Trinamool Congress leader and Rajya Sabha member Kunal Ghosh along with Saradha group chief Sudipta Sen in one of the FIRs.

A CBI spokesperson said, “These FIRs cover the four front runner companies of the group (realty, housing, tours and resorts business). Other documents relating to the group are being scrutinised and are likely to result in the registration of more FIRs.” In all cases registered, the agency has alleged criminal breach of trust, cheating and conspiracy under the Prevention of Corruption Act.

The agency has named Saradha officials Manoj Kumar Nagil, Devyani Mukherjee, Somnath Dutta, Aurobindo Chaudhary and Odisha-based Arthtatva chief Pradeep Sethi in the FIRs.

The Supreme Court had last month directed CBI to probe the Saradha scam and asked states to provide all logistic help.

The Supreme Court in its order had said, “A huge gap between the amount collected and the investments made in real estate itself calls for effective investigation as to the trail of money collected by the group of companies.”

The scam had come to light in April 2013. Saradha Realty India and three group companies collected money from the open market, reaching out to the general public by employing many agents. The money was collected in the form of investment under schemes: Fixed deposit, monthly investment scheme and recurring deposit.

Sebi had filed a report to the Supreme Court on how Saradha, on the pretext of land developers, construction of flats, running tours and travels and resorts had collected Rs 2,459 crore over five years. On the directions of the court, CBI had set up an investigation team of officials from Assam, Odisha and West Bengal.

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