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Stock fraud cloud on family

A retired government engineer who partnered his daughter and techie son-in-law in a Calcutta stockbroking firm that allegedly duped investors of nearly Rs 2 crore was arrested in Kakdwip on Thursday.

Nalini Kumar Mahanty, 69, had been absconding since the first complaint against him, daughter Sujata and son-in-law Sandip Chakrabarty was lodged in Alipore Court in June. Before fleeing, he had promised some of the investors that he would return every rupee after selling his residence at Subhasnagar, in Kakdwip.

When a team from Gariahat police station raided the same house on Thursday, they found the former irrigation department engineer and his retired schoolteacher wife Arati there, but not Sujata and Sandip.

Not only Nalini, even Sandip’s retired teacher father Ajay Chakrabarty was a partner in the alleged family business of fraud they had started through Share Deal, the defunct stockbroking firm on Garcha Road.

“What we know is that Sujata and Sandip used to run the show from a Garcha Road flat with the support of their fathers. The customers were mostly relatives and neighbours, all of whom fell for the promise of high returns on their investments,” a senior officer of Gariahat police station said after Nalini’s arrest.

The former irrigation department engineer’s two sons are settled in Bhopal and Bangalore. His wife Arati is a retired schoolteacher.

The first complainant was Prabir Banerjee, a resident of Mahanirban Road. He had paid Share Deal Rs 13.65 lakh, only to be told sometime later that a market crash wiped out the entire investment.

Ranabir Mukherjee, from Nandy Street, filed the second petition in July, saying he had lost Rs 17.3 lakh. At least eight more persons filed complaints at Gariahat police station in the next few weeks.

“They together lost nearly Rs 70 lakh. Sujata was the one who had convinced most of them to invest, even signing court documents mentioning the principal amounts. Some of them received dividends at first but realised soon that they had invested in the wrong place,” the police officer said.

Sujata’s husband used to be employed with an IT company in Sector V before going into hiding. Her Howrah-based father-in-law is missing, too.

“We have filed a case against Nalini for cheating (Section 420 of the IPC), criminal breach of trust (Section 409) and criminal conspiracy (120B),” the police officer said.

Investigators have yet to find out whether the Mahantys and Chakrabartys pocketed some of the money or lost it by investing in dud stocks. “None of the persons involved in this desperately needed money. Almost everyone had a secure background, good academic qualifications and social status,” the officer said.

The police believe that 15-20 people registered for trading through Share Deal. “More complaints could pour in now that we have arrested Nalini,” another member of the investigation team said.

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