Saradha scam : ED probe unearths `benami` land, liquor bar worth Rs 60 crore

In fresh revelations in the multi-crore Saradha scam case, the Enforcement Directorate has unearthed that `benami` land and a liquor bar, worth over Rs 60 crore, at prime locations of Kolkata were purchased by laundering investors` funds.

PTI| Updated: Apr 21, 2014, 20:56 PM IST

New Delhi/Kolkata: In fresh revelations in the multi-crore Saradha chit fund scam case, the Enforcement Directorate (ED) has unearthed that `benami` land and a liquor bar, worth over Rs 60 crore, at prime locations of Kolkata were purchased by laundering investors` funds.

The central agency has gathered documents which unravel purchase of close to 68 acres of land in attractive locations of the West Bengal capital through `benami` transactions, and no official land registration was available for the alleged illegal purchases.

This is the first time that a probe agency has found trails of some large-scale `benami` (unnamed) assets in this case which has created a furore amongst lakhs of investors.

Such assets are usually created by perpetrators of a fraud enterprise to escape the tax net.

Sources privy to the development told PTI that the agency sleuths have cracked some e-mails and cell phone communication of some `key` people involved in the case, including those of Shubojit, son of the main accused of the ponzi scheme scam Sudipta Sen.

The estimated market value of these assets is close to about Rs 60 crore.
The agency, sources said, has now approached the West Bengal Land and Revenue Department authorities and some banks that would be able to give out some relevant details of the purchase of these properties.

Purchase of a popular liquor bar by laundering investors` funds by a few individuals involved in the case has also been detected, which is under the scanner of the agency, which has stepped up its probe in the case in the past few days.
The ED`s zonal office in Kolkata has also seized a bank locker containing gold ornaments in a prominent private bank which will be soon attached under the provisions of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA).

The central probe agency had last week arrested Sudipta`s wife Piyali Sen and Shubhojit from Kolkata on charges of alleged dubious transactions that led to the Ponzi scam, in which thousands of investors were duped across West Bengal, Odisha and Assam.

The agency also has summoned numerous people including some sitting MPs and Arpita Ghosh, thespian and Trinamool Congress candidate from Balurghat Lok Sabha seat, in connection with the investigation into the scam.

Sudipta Sen`s wife and son, at present in judicial custody of the ED, are being confronted with some incriminating documents that the agency has obtained after raids at some locations of the Kolkata-based firms.

The agency has recently issued summons to numerous entities involved in the case even as it attached assets worth Rs 140 crore of individuals and allied firms on money laundering charges.

The ED has also issued a notice asking general public "to furnish information and particulars of properties, both movable and immovable as well as bank accounts, in West Bengal and other places, if any, related to Saradha group known to them, with specific details".

The agency also issued summons to about 15 people involved in the funds transactions of the scam that came to the fore early last year after duped investors raised their voice of grievance.
The agency is probing the case taking cognisance of the FIRs filed by the three state police departments.
The agency has till now issued attachment orders on all equity shares of all 224 companies of the Saradha Group, insurance policies in the name of Sen and his wife, numerous land properties and plots, 390 bank accounts and equity shares of a TV channel run by the beleaguered group.