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Dupe fury spills on street
CBI probe raises delay fear

Bhubaneswar, June 18: Fear and uncertainty has gripped thousands of investors on whether they would get back the money they saved with fake deposit mobilisation companies even as the CBI has started its investigation into the scam.

“It may take years for investors to get back their money,” said a source in home department.

“The CBI will start a fresh probe. Officials will have to record the statement again under Section of 160 of the Criminal Procedure Code and it will be difficult for them to decipher the statement by poor investors written in Odia,” said a police official.

Sources said eight inspectors have been given the task to start the probe.

“They will again have to traverse through the length and breadth of the state to talk to the investors and the state officials dealing with the probe. Even if one inspector starts inquiring into five cases each, it involves huge task,” said an official, adding that they would also have to examine the voluminous records collected by Crime Branch.

The CBI has brought activities of as many as 43 fraudulent companies, including the big-time operators such as Sea Shore group, Artha Tatwa, Bengal-based Saradha group, Astha and Flourish India, under its scanner following a directive from the apex court. According to the state government’s estimation, the scam relating to the default was to the tune of around Rs 4,375 crore. However, investigation has pointed that the money involved in it could touch a staggering Rs 20,000 crore. The fate of about 20 lakh investors is also involved in it.

Properties of eight companies have already been attached and a process has also begun to liquidate the properties under the Odisha Protection of Interests Depositors’ (in Financial Establishment) Act. Four designated courts have also started functioning in Bhubaneswar, Berhampur, Balasore and Sambalpur to deal with cases related to fake deposit mobilisation companies. The Act empowers the state government to attach and confiscate the properties of the fraudulent financial organisations to return the money to the affected depositors and also initiate criminal action against erring financial institutions.

“The process has begun and we are hopeful that the people will start getting their money from September onwards as we will liquidate the properties and distribute the sale proceeds to the investors. The state government was also supposed to provide money. But now, there is no guarantee on this issue,” said another official. Another thing that is going to be a major hurdle in disbursing the confiscated properties of the sham companies is that many of the seized properties won’t fetch much money in auction.

“The luxury cars and posh houses that have been seized will lose their value over the years. It will not be able to attract good price,” said an official involved in the inquiry process. Additional chief secretary-cum-finance secretary U.N. Behera said: “People will certainly get back their money. Even if the CBI court is probing the cases, they will look into the laws passed by the state which had received the President’s nod.”

Additional director general of Crime branch B.K. Sharma said: “We are committed to the cause of the people. We will ensure that the people get back their money.”