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Mamata Banerjee announces 500 crore relief for chit-fund victims

Kolkata, Apr. 24 (ANI): With the Trinamool Congress (TMC) Government in West Bengal drawing sharp criticism from the opposition parties over the alleged fraud by collapsed chit fund company Saradha Group, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has announced Rs. 5,000 crore relief for the victims.

“Some people trying to defame me and my government. Action be taken against TMC MPs if found guilty,” said Banerjee, and added that she is ready to call a special assembly session to enact a special law on chit-funds.

“Why didn’t RBI and other central agencies act?” she asked.

Banerjee, who has denied that her party, the Trinamool Congress, encouraged or exploited Saradha Realty India Managing Director Sudipto Sen, said the funds will be given to the small and medium sized investors.

“Compensation to be funded partly by a cess of 10 percent on cigarettes,” she said.

Banerjee had earlier announced the setting up of an inquiry commission headed by a former Calcutta High Court judge to probe the chit-fund scam. She had also announced the setting up of a Special Investigation Team led by the Director-General of Police to probe the scam.

Banerjee urged people to register their complaints with the inquiry commission that would have four members, including a retired IPS officer, one person from the corporate sector and renowned economists.

In a letter to the CBI, Sen, whose chit fund went bust earlier this month, wiping out the savings of lakhs of depositors in West Bengal, has reportedly named 22 people, including Trinamool Congress leaders who used to make money.

Trinamool Congress (TMC) leader Saugata Roy earlier in the day expressed his regret over the loss of the hard earned money of the people.

“Many people deposited their money with the company as it made false promises. Now it is really sad that all of their life savings are lost. But as per the law of the country right now, the Chief Minister cannot give back their money. The Chief Minister has the government’s money and it has to be used by following certain procedure,” said Roy.

“Later if this matter goes to the High Court and the court appoints a liquidator, then the money must be returned to the investors,” he added.

Communist Party of India (CPI) leader D. Raja today called for a through probe into the multi-crore Saradha chit-fund scam, and demanded that the government should take firm steps to ensure that the money of the people is returned.

“The point is poor people should not be robbed. They must get their money. All their life savings have been deposited. Nobody should rob the poor people. Such criminals should not go scot-free,” said Raja.

“There must be a thorough investigation. Whichever party they belong to, it does not matter. Everybody should be thoroughly probed, examined and ultimately the people who have deposited their life savings money, they must get back their money, they must get justice,” he added.

The Managing Director of Saradha Realty India is being escorted by the police to Kolkata from Kashmir, where he was tracked down yesterday.

According to reports, he was today sent to four-day transit remand by a court in Ganderbal, near Srinagar in Jammu and Kashmir. Sen was detained from Sonmarg in Jammu and Kashmir along with two other company officials last evening.

The collapse of the Saradha empire has left lakhs of small investors and collection agents financially stranded.

Sen disappeared around April 13, as Saradha Group offices across West Bengal began to shut down and many of its cheques bounced.

Market regulator Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) has ordered Saradha Realty India to close all its collective schemes and refund the money collected from investors within three months.

The capital market regulator in a late night order yesterday also barred Saradha Realty India and its Managing Director from the securities markets till the time it winds up all its Collective Investment Schemes, and refunds the entire money to investors.

SEBI’s order against Saradha Realty follows an investigation launched about three years ago by it after a reference was received from the Director Economic Offences investigation Cell, West Bengal Government, in April 2010. (ANI)