Saradha group chief Sudipta Sen being produced in a Bhubaneswar court. Picture by Ashwinee Pati
Bhubaneswar, July 3: Saradha group owner Sudipta Sen was today sent to judicial custody till July 10 by the district and sessions court, Khurda, the only designated court in the state to deal with the money laundering cases.
Sen, who was produced in the court by the officers of Enforcement Directorate (ED), will be lodged in the Jharpada jail till that day when the court will consider the directorate’s petition seeking 14-day remand of the Saradha group chief, who has been accused of cheating thousands of investors in Odisha.
Special public prosecutor of ED Debashis Panda said: “On the prayer of the ED, Sen was produced before the special judge at Bhubaneswar where an application for his remand was moved. The matter has been posted for hearing on July 10.”
Sen, who arrived in Bhubaneswar this morning in the custody of Calcutta police, was produced in the court of special judge (Prevention of Money Laundering Act), D.P. Choudhury in the afternoon.
The court posted the hearing for July 10 saying the matter required further consideration. Sen did not hire any lawyer to defend himself.
The Saradha group has allegedly cheated investors in Odisha to the tune of around Rs 70 crore. The ED during the initial phase of its probe had found evidence of money laundering by the group that began its operation in Odisha in 2009. Subsequently the ED officials in the state registered an Enforcement Case Information Report (ECIR), equivalent to an FIR, against Sen in June.
Panda further said that if the ED found any evidence against the company violating the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA), a charge sheet would be filed in the special court in Bhubaneswar. The trial may also be held in the same designated court.
Though the company mainly operates in Bengal, Assam and Tripura, it had branches in Balasore, Puri, Sambalpur and Berhampur where it allegedly cheated thousands of investors.
Additional director-general of police B.K. Sharma said: “The economic offence wing (EOW) has already seized a prime plot of 14 acres belonging to the group in Balasore. The process of confiscation of its assets has begun under the Odisha Protection of Interests of Depositors (in Financial Establishments) Act, 2011.”
Sources said the value of the land in company’s possession in the state is believed to be around Rs 10 crore. The crime branch had already arrested five employees of the company including branch manager of Saradha Group’s office at Balasore Basudev Samal and liaison officer Bichitrananda Das.
Sources in the Crime Branch said its enforcement wing has already attached properties of nearly 15 money circulation companies. The CBI is probing all these cases.
“The CBI is mainly looking at the criminal conspiracy part of these cases,” said a senior official.
The Saradha group, which was a money circulation deposit company, had floated an incentive scheme for its agents so that they would feel encouraged to raise more money from the market.
“If an agent collected Rs 1 lakh, he was to get Rs 10,000 to Rs 12,000 as incentive. If a team working under him collected Rs 1 lakh, as a leader the agent was to get a cut of Rs 8,000,” an official said.