New Delhi: CPI(M) on Monday accused the Mamata Banerjee government in West Bengal of delaying the attachment of properties of Saradha and about 25 other such firms in the state and demanded a Supreme Court-monitored CBI probe into the chit fund fraud along with immediate refund for the hapless small investors.
"The loss of time in attaching their properties is permitting these companies to clandestinely transfer their assets. We feel there is a complicity of the state government in blocking investigations and not attaching the properties," CPI(M) leader Sitaram Yechury told a press conference here.
Asserting that Bengal government should refund investors` money through an auction of the assets of these companies as per the laid-down legal norms, he said the state government`s move to "dole out some money out of its coffers to some of the lakhs of small investors who have invested their life`s savings" was also illegal.
Observing that the amount defrauded by these companies totalled to about Rs 1 lakh crore, including about Rs 30,000 crore by Saradha, he pointed out that the Rs 500 crore fund created by the state government to provide succour to the investors was "less than one per cent of the total".
Yechury and the state`s Leader of Opposition Surjyokanta Mishra were talking to reporters after meeting Corporate Affairs Minister Sachin Pilot to seek speedy action against the said chit-fund firms. They also released a copy of the letter by them to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in this regard.
"We urge you to intervene in this matter so that payment to all depositors is made with adequate promptness by attaching the properties of Saradha Group in accordance with law and as also directed by the SEBI and not by giving grant through the Commission, which is not legal, as mentioned above," the letter said.
It added that this process should start immediately with focus on attachment and disposal of properties, along with punishment for the offending firm.
Referring to allegations by one sitting Trinamool Congress MP against another for "having irregular financial relations with Saradha Group", Mishra said that was all the more reason for immediately launching a CBI probe under the apex court`s supervision.
To a question about the MP threatening to reveal names of more Trinamool leaders, he said, "Why is he just threatening. He should give out the names. He should also cooperate with the SFIO (Serious Fraud Investigation Office) probe. He should have the courage to do that."
As to what action the erstwhile Left Front government had taken against such frauds, Mishra said it had not only attached the properties of such firms and compensated the victims, but also moved a PIL in Calcutta High Court on the matter.
"After that, we also got a unanimous resolution adopted in the state Assembly. Even if the relevant legislation of the state government is pending, why are they not going by the high court verdict and attaching the properties of these fraudulent companies," Mishra asked.
Regarding their meeting with Pilot, Yechury said the Minister told them that SFIO was expected to submit its final report on the scam by December.
In its preliminary report, SFIO, which comes under the Corporate Affairs Ministry, has found financial irregularities committed by about 54 companies that are under its scanner.
CPI(M) leaders have earlier made submissions on the issue to President Pranab Mukherjee, the Prime Minister and Finance Minister P Chidambaram.
"Since this Saradha Group reportedly has properties in several states and abroad and since states like Tripura, Odisha and Assam, also affected by the activities of this Group, have already decided to involve CBI, Centre should immediately move Supreme Court by joining a litigation already being heard in this matter," Yechury said.
He also suggested that CBI, SFIO, ED and the state agencies could coordinate among themselves in the matter.