Nearly 160 Saradha Companies Still Outside CBI Net – Sunday Guardian – 21-Dec-2014

December 27, 2014 - Uncategorized

The Central Bureau of Investigation has charge-sheeted only four Saradha group companies so far in its investigation into the chit fund scam, but that may be only the tip of the iceberg. A Ministry of Corporate Affairs document accessed by The Sunday Guardian reveals that the man behind the scam, Sudipto Sen, owned around 160 companies. Official records show that, Sen (DIN/DPIN: 01463390) was the director of all these companies. How he managed to escape the notice of the UPA government at the Centre and the Left and Trinamool Congress governments in West Bengal during the group’s rapid expansion remains a mystery. Sen, the chairman and managing director of the Saradha group, is presently in prison.

Saradha Construction Company Pvt Ltd, Sen’s first venture, was started in 1995. In 1999, Subhojit Construction Pvt Ltd and Behala Saradha Construction Co Ltd were added to the Saradha fold. Then in 2007, the group began to diversify, adding Saradha Garden Resort and Hotel Pvt Ltd and Saradha Tours and Travels, both of which have been charge sheeted. Another 13 companies were added to the Saradha fold in 2009; in 2010, over 30 new companies were brought in. The expansion peaked in 2011, the year Mamata Banerjee became West Bengal Chief Minister, with 111 new companies added to the empire. A further three new companies were added in 2012, the year it started to come under the scanner of SEBI.

Sen’s income tax returns also reveal some startling facts. The Sunday Guardian has accessed Sen’s IT returns for 2009-10, 2010-11 and 2011-12. In 2009-10, Sen declared a gross total income of Rs 45.64 lakh. His income rose to Rs 79.01 lakh the following year, a jump of 73%. In 2011-12, he declared an income of Rs 1.21 cr, a 53% increase.

“We have been saying from day one that this is perhaps one of the biggest scams to have rocked the nation,” said West Bengal BJP president Rahul Sinha. “17 lakh investors have been duped of their hard earned money. This institutionalised loot gained momentum during the TMC’s rule. Who was behind Sen’s windfall becomes clear when we look at the way the Saradha group became the West Bengal government’s official media propaganda vehicle, and TMC MPs and MLAs took active part in promoting it and eulogising Sen in public. But that doesn’t mean that anyone else who might have been involved in the great Saradha robbery will be spared.”

Accusing the BJP of engaging in a political witch-hunt, the TMC is trying to shift the blame to the CPI(M). The fact that the Saradha group had begun operations and embarked on its diversification plans when the Left was in power, Bengal has raised some uncomfortable questions for the communists.

Dr Fuad Halim, son of former West Bengal Assembly Speaker Hashim Abdul Halim and the face of the new Left in Bengal, rejects the charge. “Mamata Banerjee is accusing the former Left Front government in West Bengal of helping Sudipto Sen spread his wings. But one has to read between the lines. Financial activities by companies come under the purview of the Centre. At that point in time, Mamata Banerjee herself was a part of the Central government. The mopping up of funds took a serious upswing after 2009, when the Trinamool Congress consolidated its position in the Lok Sabha elections. There is no denying the fact that the fund mop-up was done with the blessings and at the directions of the TMC leadership,” he said.

 

Sunday Guardian

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