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Supreme Court asks CBI to probe Saradha & other chit funds, tells state police to cooperate

New Delhi, May 9 (Online Bureau with inputs from PTI): The Supreme Court on Friday directed the Central Bureau of Investigation to probe the Saradha scam in West Bengal as well as 44 similar unlicensed outfits in Odisha that went bust after raising thousands of crores of rupees from gullible investors.

A bench of Justices T.S. Thakur and Chockalingam Nagappan of the apex court also directed the police in West Bengal, Odisha and Assam - the three states with lakhs of victims - to cooperate with the federal agency and give it details of all cases filed so far.

At least two other central agencies are also investigating Saradha-- the enforcement directorate under the Union finance Ministry, and the Serious Frauds Investigation Office under the corporate affairs ministry, with a broader ambit.

The Supreme Court said the ED should join CBI in finding the money trail.

Last month, the ED, after working behind the scenes for months, tracked down and arrested Sudipta Sen’s second wife, and his son by his first marriage.

The ED’s arrests happened on April 16, a day before the Lok Sabha elections to the first lot of four constituencies in the state, muddying the political waters by reviving the Saradha ghost.

The Calcutta-based Saradha group, the largest of the lot, went bust in April last year and its founder chairman Sudipta Sen was arrested from Jammu & Kashmir after he went on the run. Saradha’s collapse put the spotlight on similar ponzi schemes, which also defaulted.

The Saradha scam has put Mamata Banerjee’s Trinamul Congress government on the backfoot, with the Opposition alleging a funding nexus. The Trinamul has denied any such link and has said Saradha was born during the rule of the Left Front government.

The West Bengal police had been investigating the case, and has arrested a number of people, including Trinamul Congress Rajya Sabha member Kunal Ghosh, who headed the now-defunct media empire of the Saradha group, but is yet to come to any conclusion.

On April 22 last year, the state had set up a four-member commission headed by retired high court judge Shyamal Sen to probe the Saradha scam, and help the lakhs of affected investors.