Saradha scam: CBI raids in West Bengal, Odisha

The CBI Thursday conducted 30 raids in various places in West Bengal and Odisha in connection with its probe in the Rs.10,000 crore Saradha chit fund scam.

The raids were conducted at offices as well as residences belonging to the various accused and the private companies against whom cases have been registered by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).

Trinamool Congress’s Rajya Sabha member Kunal Ghosh is one of the accused.

“We have conducted raids at 10 locations in West Bengal and 20 in Odisha,” a CBI official said.

“An amount of Rs.28 lakh was recovered from the founder member of Saradha group as well as a fixed deposit of Rs.22 lakh and Rs.4.9 lakh was recovered from another founder member of the company,” the official said.

The agency has registered 47 cases, including three in West Bengal and 44 in Odisha, in the alleged chit fund scam on the directions of the Supreme Court.

At least 44 companies were mentioned in the May 9 apex court order on a civil writ petition filed in 2013.

CBI sources said role of regulatory bodies like the Securities Exchange Board of India (SEBI), the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) and the corporate affairs ministry will be examined as per the orders of the Supreme Court which had directed the CBI to probe the case.

The agency has registered cases for alleged criminal breach of trust, cheating and criminal conspiracy among others.

In 47 first information reports registered in Odisha, the CBI has accused Pradeep Sethi, managing director of the Arthsatwa group, and Prashant Das of Sea Shore group besides officials of Rose Valley micro-finance, Saradha group and Astha International among others, CBI sources said.

“In Odisha, the CBI has registered 43 cases against 43 companies and the then MDs, then directors and others on allegations of cheating, criminal breach of trust and conspiracy.

“Scrutiny of more documents is being carried out for future course of action,” the CBI official said.

The Supreme court had handed over the Saradha chit fund scam case to the CBI in May and asked the state governments to provide all logistical help to the CBI team.

The CBI formed a Special Investigating Team (SIT) headed by Joint Director Rajeev Singh to also probe the role of the SEBI and the RBI.

“Investigation conducted so far puts a question mark on the role of regulatory authorities like the SEBI, registrar of companies and officials of the 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.

CBI Special Director Anil Kumar Sinha has been asked to monitor the progress in the probe and exercise administrative control under the overall supervision of the CBI director.