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Saradha scam: To pay back investors, ED seeks court’s nod to auction assets

Saradha scam: Sudipta bought sick units to turn black money into white, says ED

Sudipta Sen, the chief architect of over Rs 2,000 crore Saradha chit fund scam, parked hard earned investor funds into loss making companies to convert huge black money into white, a probe report has revealed.

The Enforcement Directorate (ED), which is probing the chitfund scam under anti-money laundering laws, has detected it was a “common practise” deployed by Sudipta to channel the criminal proceeds of the scam into loss making companies so as to “distance the original tainted source from the money generated by the companies (Saradha firms which collected money from investors).”

“It appears that the investments in these properties (sick units) are shown only for regularising the crime proceeds as mobilised by the four companies of the Saradha group in cash, which actually is the placement of the crime proceeds,” a probe report filed by the agency in a court said.

Sudipta Sen. AFP.Sudipta Sen. AFP.

Sudipta Sen. AFP.

“It is seen from the investigation that it was a common practise of Sudipta Sen to acquire a number of flats in different parts of West Bengal as well as in other states (Delhi, Odisha, and Assam) in the name of Saradha Realty India Limited.

“These investments were done on behalf of the company (Saradha Realty) but were ultimately enjoyed by Sudipta personally. This clearly appears the laundering of the public money mobilised from the common masses on the false promise of lucrative returns,” the report, accessed by PTI, said.

The ED probe found a “considerable part” of every purchased asset, movable or immovable, was further paid in cash to many of the sellers of the properties for “evading the stamp duties and for other reasons best known to Sudipta.”

“Thus, it can be presumed that in cases where a part payment has been made initially and no further payment has been made for a long interval, payments could have been made in cash,” the agency said after close to two years of its investigation in the case, indicating the method of generation of black money in the scam.

ED, on the basis of various police FIRs filed by states like West Bengal, Assam, and Odisha, had registered a criminal case under the provisions of Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) in 2013 and it has attached assets worth over Rs 700 crore in this case till now.

The agency said all criminal proceeds of the scam, after cheating numerous gullible investors of their hard earned deposits, were mostly mobilised by four Saradha firms– Saradha Realty India Limited, Saradha Tours and Travel Private Limited, Saradha Garden Resort and Hotels Private Limited, and Saradha Housing Private Limited.

The firms, the agency said, were “engaged in mobilising the money from public on false promises of high interest which is not possible.”

“It has been detected, the probe report said, that “the money mobilised by Saradha Realty India Limited and Saradha Tours and Travel Pvt Ltd have been paid into the resorts, flats, companies among others… so as to distance the crime proceeds by mixing the same with the incomes of the companies.”

The agency has cited examples in its report to prove that Sudipta was purchasing sick companies to hide his black money and also to convert illicit funds into white or clean money. “It could be seen in the case of Ms Bengal Awadhoot Agro Pvt Ltd, Land Mark Cements, Aranya View Resort, Ms Amma Dairy etc that either the companies earlier ran in losses or they were having huge bank liabilities.

“For the placement of the money, Sudipta acquired a common practise of purchasing them by meeting the bank liabilities as well as paying them an additional sum besides that to acquire total controlling stake in the company. It is as the method adopted by Sudipta that he used to wield the sway over the company/ies (sick unit),” the agency said.

The ED which has questioned Sudipta and numerous other politicians and Members of Parliament in this scam probe is expected to soon file a comprehensive charge sheet soon, after the CBI recently did so.


Court rejects Madan Mitra’s bail plea, remands Bengal minister to judicial custody

Kolkata: A city court today rejected the bail plea of West Bengal Transport Minister Madan Mitra and remanded him in judicial custody till 16 January even as he claimed innocence saying he was ready to be hanged if found guilty.

Judicial magistrate of Alipore court Monikuntala Roy extended the judicial remand of Mitra, who was arrested on 12 December, by 14 days on a prayer by CBI.

West Bengal Minister Madan Mitra. PTI

“I will accept an order to be hanged if even a rupee is found to have been transferred to Madan Mitra’s fund from Saradha,” the minister told the court.

He has been charged under sections 420 and 406 of IPC, which can invite a maximum punishment of seven years in jail, if convicted.

Pleading innocence, Mitra said, “In 2009 I had no idea about NBFCs. Previous chit fund scams relating to ‘Sanchaita’ occurred when I was very young and was in school.”

“I was told by some youths in 2009 that Saradha was buying huge tracts of land in South 24-Parganas district from farmers, but was refusing payment to them,” Mitra claimed.

“Then I went to Saradha Garden to enquire on the issue and was told by the Saradha Group people that they were a small company and that it was difficult for them to pay.

“I told them that what is small today will become big someday, little drops of water make a river,” he said, seeking to explain the context of his controversial statement at a Saradha Group get together, which is being seen by certain sections as inviting people to invest in Saradha Group chit funds.

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CBI registers two fresh cases against Saradha chief for fraud in Assam

Saradha chit fund scam: TMC leader Madan Mitra’s sent to judicial custody till 2 January

Saradha scam: CBI decides to move higher court for Madan Mitra’s voice sample testing

“I also told them that as an MLA I will take care of any legal problem if and when it arises,” Mitra, who was then MLA of Bishnupur South Assembly constituency in South 24-Parganas district, said, adding that if he had uttered a single more word in this regard, then he was ready to accept any punishment.

Earlier during the hearing, Mitra’s counsel Ashok Mukherjee submitted before the magistrate that his client being a minister and a respectable person would neither abscond nor try to tamper with any evidence in regard to the case.

Mukherjee said that any condition imposed by the court for granting of bail was acceptable to them and claimed that Mitra was kept behind bars because of political vendetta.

CBI counsel Partha Sarathi Dutta opposed the bail prayer, claiming that huge funds were transferred to Mitra by the Saradha Group and that he had played an active part in connivance with the group’s chairman Sudipta Sen, the main accused in the case, in the multi-crore chit fund scam spread across several states.

Mitra was arrested on 12 December and following two installments of CBI custody, he was sent to judicial remand on 19 December.

He was, however, admitted to state-run SSKM Hospital on the same evening following complaints of chest pain and uneasiness and was there for most part of his judicial remand before he was shifted back to Alipore Central Jail on 28 December after the doctors gave the go-ahead for his release from hospital.

The magistrate today directed the jail authorities to ensure medical aid to Mitra.