Bhubaneswar, Oct. 4: Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee’s move to distribute compensation cheques to a few hundred investors, who have been duped by fraud deposit collection companies, has mounted pressure on the state government reeling from a similar crisis.
The Naveen Patnaik government is planning to follow Bengal and ensure that investors, who have put their money in these companies, get it back before the 2014 general elections. Sources in the government said a move was afoot to emulate Mamata and distribute a token amount to those, who had invested up to Rs 10,000.
“Work is going on in this regard. Our aim is to cover maximum number of people. Once the court begins its proceedings, many cases will be disposed of within 60 days. The people can expect some relief in financial terms before March next year,” said an official.
The state government has already floated a Rs 300-crore corpus fund to provide relief to the investors. The official said the government was in touch with Orissa High Court to open designated courts in four places — Bhubaneswar, Sambalpur, Balasore and Cuttack.
“It is likely to give its concurrence to the state’s proposal this week. Once the court starts operating, a number of cases would be disposed of within 60 days,” he said. Exercise has begun to appoint one or more advocates of not less than 10 years’ experience as special public prosecutors for each of the designated courts for conducting the cases. He said the state government had framed the rules under the Orissa Protection of Interests of Depositors (in Financial Establishments) Act, 2011, and issued the notification on September 24. “There has been provision — if a fraudulent company owner appears before the additional district magistrate and assures him that he would refund the money, no criminal cases would be lodged against him. We are hopeful that it would solve their problem to a greater extent,” he said. Sources said the state government would not wait for completion of the hearing by Justice R.K. Patra Commission, which is inquiring into the activities of the ponzy schemes.
“The commission will certainly issue a broad outline on how these activities can be curbed. As nearly 8,00,000 applications have reached the commission, it will certainly take time to go through the cases.”
In another development, the commission has extended deadline till October 31 to accept applications from the victims of the fraud companies. Now, process has been initiated to seize and confiscate properties of the sham companies and sell them.
“Out of the sale proceeds, the state government can also distribute the money among the investors with the court’s concurrence,” said another official. The state government admitted that the scam was of around Rs 4,375 crore. Nearly 6.89 lakh investors have been cheated. In its report to the governor, the government said 280 cases had been lodged against 127 companies and 315 people were arrested. The number is likely to go up.