WB Guv worried about Saradha losers

Last Updated: Fri, Apr 26, 2013 11:27 hrs

Kolkata, Apr 26 (IBNS) West Bengal Governor M K Narayanan on Friday said while probes are on to unearth the Saradha Group chit fund collapse, the immediate need is to see how the money of the unfortunate investors could be repaid.

"Several inquires are going on, but most important now is how can we give some money back to those who lost their money," Narayanan said.

With the collapse of the Saradha Group chit fund, countless small investors who trusted the group, something taking it as a company close to the ruling government, are in the lurch.

Jammu and Kashmir Police on Tuesday had arrested the Saradha Group chairman and managing director Sudipta Sen along with others in Sonmarg. He is now in police custody in Kolkata undergoing interrogation.

The ruling Trinamool Congress has been warding off allegations of its proximity with the Saradha Group which went bust recently leaving countless of its investors and employees of various business, including media arms, in dire straits.

Adding more trouble, employees of Saradha group TV channels and publications that closed down after their chit fund business went bust have filed a case against Sudipta Sen as well as Trinamool Congress MP Kunal Ghosh in Kolkata for non-payment of their salaries.

The employees of Channel 10, a Bengali news network, have alleged that they were not paid salaries for three to eight months and the company did not deposit their contributions to the provident fund.

Other channel and publication employees also said they were not paid for months.

The employees of Channel 10 filed FIR against seven people, including Sudipta Sen and Kunal Ghosh besides some senior journalists and GM-Finance as well who they alleged were "beneficiaries of the loot that went on in the channel for years," taking it in the red.

In a letter to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) sent prior to his arrest, Sen had blamed blackmailing and extortion by senior politicians, especially from the TMC and Congress, for the companys collapse.

While he named TMC MPs Srinjoy Bose and Kunal Ghosh as key beneficiaries among other leaders, Sen had also named the wife of a senior Congress leader at the Centre who he had to pay off.

However, Kunal Ghosh defended his stand by saying that he was a mere "salaried employee" and has nothing to do with the companys chit fund business.

He said he was not in charge of the finance and only headed the editorial board.

Without naming P Chidambaram or his wife Nalini Chidambaram, the TMC raised a series of questions on its official website that attacked the Congress.

At the Centre, the Enforcement Directorate (ED) meanwhile registered a money laundering case against the Saradha Group to probe the allegations of financial irregularities by numerous depositors.

The ED registered a regular case under the provisions of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) at its Guwahati office while the Assam police has registered an FIR against the group.

The Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government at the Centre on Thursday also announced formation of a Special Task Force to investigate chit funds and related schemes.

The developments came as a Kolkata court on Thursday sent Sudipta Sen, companys director Debjani Mukherjee and another official Arvind Singh Chauhan to 14-day police custody.

They were brought to Kolkata late on Wednesday night on a 4-day transit remand after being arrested from Kashmir.

Under attack for its supposed proximity to the Saradha Group, the TMC-led West Bengal government on Wednesday announced a Rs 500 crore fund to help some of the victims of the chit fund scam.

Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee announced a 10 percent increase in taxes on cigarettes which she said would help pay Rs 150 crores while the remaining Rs 350 crores would be arranged from other means.

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