The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on Thursday carried out searches at 22 locations, including the homes and offices of two former Assam ministers – Himanta Biswa Sarma and Anjan Dutta – in connection with its probe into the alleged swindling of investors’ deposits by the Saradha group.
CBI sources said searches were conducted at 12 locations in Guwahati, two in Dhubri, Assam, seven in Kolkata and one in Mumbai in connection with the scam.
Those whose premises were searched included former Assam ministers and MLAs Himanta Biswa Sarma and Anjan Dutta, former DGP of Assam Shankar Baruah and singer Sadananda Gogoi.
Sarma was a powerful minister in Tarun Gogoi cabinet since 2001 but was dropped by the chief minister after he spearheaded a campaign to dislodge Gogoi. Dutta is considered a Gogoi loyalist who handled important porfolios like transport.
In Kolkata, premises of one Bapi Karim, who was a personal assistant to a minister, industrialists Sajjan and Sandhir Agarwal, a former IPS officer Deben Biswas and one Asif Khan were searched.
There are four FIRs against Saradha Group in which it is alleged that thousands of investors were allegedly duped by the company officials and their associates who swindled their deposits. Besides, there are 44 FIRs in Odisha against Ponzi companies.
The Supreme Court had handed over the Saradha chit fund scam probe to CBI and asked the state governments to provide all logistical help to the CBI team investigating the matter.
CBI has formed a Special Investigating Team (SIT) headed by Joint Director Rajeev Singh to also probe the role of Securities Exchange Board of India and RBI.
“Investigation conducted so far puts a question mark on the role of regulatory authorities like SEBI, registrar of companies and officials of RBI within whose respective jurisdictions and areas of operation the scam not only took birth but flourished unhindered,” an apex court bench headed by Justice T S Thakur had said in its order.