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Ponzi scheme investors in lurch as Sen Commission winds up

With the tenure of the Justice Shyamal Sen Commission, set up in 2013, to investigate the Saradha scam, coming to an end today, duped investors of hundreds of money-pooling companies find themselves in a predicament.

The All India Small Depositors and Agent Protection Committee has already placed an appeal with the Calcutta High Court for extension of the Commission.

As there has been no financial allocation to the commission, the panel recently wrote to state government whether in the wake investigation by central agencies like CBI (Central Bureau of Investigation) and ED (Enforcement Directorate), it could play any role in the probe. “The state government has decided to seek suitable direction from High Court, Calcutta or Supreme Court of India, on the issue. In view of this, it may be appropriate for the Commission no to take up any proccedings,” the state government has said in a written communication to the panel dated October 15, 2014.

Notably, ever since CBI and ED have started probe in the scam, the state government has been critical of the interference.

“It is not my responsibility now,” recently, chief minister Mamata Banerjee had said, referring to the probe in the scam.

The commission so far had paid close to Rs 278 crore to Saradha investors with investments less than Rs 20000. Of this, cheques worth Rs 138 crore bounced due to wrong addresses, according to Subir Dey, president of the depositors association.

Meanwhile, on its last day of hearing, the Sen Commission summoned the executives of nearly 23 companies, including Sudipto Sen of Saradha.

“We expected that the commission would prepare a comprehensive report demanding the attachment of properties of the companies through court orders. Now, that the commission is winding, our efforts would go waste,” said Dey.

So far, the commission had probed the cases for 108 companies. Based on the recommendation of the commission’s finding, the Calcutta high court in July directed the auction of properties of a company called Tower Group, for refund to the investors.

According to estimates by the depositors association, there are close to 1700 companies, some of which are subsidiaries, need to be investigated. The total deposits raised through these companies could be to the tune of more than Rs 2 lakh crore, according to Dey.

During the Saradha probe itself, the Sen Commission received 1.7 million applications. Although most of these had deposited money in Saradha, investors of other companies such as Amazon Capital, Suraha Microfinance, Sunmarg, ICore, Rose Valley and Alchemist have also registered complaints with the Commission.


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