Chit fund scam: Court allows ED probe into Saradha Group deals



Kolkata: Opening a new avenue in the raging Saradha Group chit fund scam probe, the Calcutta High Court Tuesday allowed the Enforcement Directorate (ED) to investigate the case.

"Taking suo motu cognisance of the scam, based on media reports, we approached the court seeking a direction that we be allowed to investigate the matter and necessary documents be provided to us. The court was pleased to order the same," ED counsel Bhaskar Baisya said.

A bench of Chief Justice Arun Mishra and JM Bagchi, hearing a public interest litigation seeking a CBI probe into the multi-crore-rupee chit fund scam, directed the West Bengal government to furnish a copy of first information report (FIR) to the ED.

Baisya said the ED earlier sought cooperation from police but they were denied any assistance.

He said there was enough evidence to suggest the involvement of money laundering in the scam and the case was fit to be investigated by the ED under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act.

The bench also directed the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) - a party to the petition - to submit an affidavit regarding its investigation into matter in other states.

Subrata Mukherjee, who has filed the PIL, said the court was in "favour of any central agency probing the matter".

"Considering the nature of the crime and the fact that already several suicides have taken place, the court observed thatthe central government through one of its agencies was capable of probing the matter," Mukherjee told media persons after the hearing.

Mukherjee though was quick to point out that the court's observation does not in any way undermine the state government's ability to investigate the matter.

Saradha Group CEO Sudipta Sen and two of his close aides are behind bars and facing prosecution for cheating and conspiracy after the Group collapsed, unable to repay lakhs of depositors - most of them poor people from villages and small towns - who had parked their hard earned money with its companies, lured by promise of huge returns.

A number of agents and depositors of Saradha and similar chit fund companies have committed suicide, while offices of a large number of such dubious concerns operating in the state have been attacked.

IANS