The Telegraph
Saturday , June 7 , 2014
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Saradha lens on big shots

Calcutta, June 6: The CBI will probe the role of “highly influential persons” who had worked for the Saradha Group and played a role in its rise.

The central agency will also investigate the “larger conspiracy” behind the default scam.

In one of the three FIRs lodged with the CBI’s special court in Calcutta, the agency has said Sudipta Sen, as chairman of the Saradha Group, had “connived with highly influential persons” who helped in liasing with “various government agencies”.

In the 10-page FIR, U.K. Agarwal, a member of the special investigating team of the CBI, has said the role of these “influential” persons “in planning/abetting the whole financial fraud can’t be ruled out”.

In the FIR — RC-06/S/2014 Kol dated 4. 6. 2014 — several cases against Saradha, including two lodged in Murshidabad and Burdwan, have been clubbed together.

“The thrust of the probe will be on unravelling all aspects of the greater criminal conspiracy the Saradha Group chairman had entered into while making crores in a few years. The role of some agencies, including banks, will be looked into,” an official said.

“The SIT formed by the Bengal government had not probed a criminal conspiracy and the role of influential people,” said a Bengal-cadre IPS officer.

The CBI FIR states that the statutory auditors of Saradha had concealed the actual business model of the group.

In the FIR, Agarwal has said the auditors had “prepared the audit reports without scrutinising the books of accounts and relevant vouchers and signed the financial statements prepared by the management with mala-fide intention”. It adds that the auditors had not mentioned violations such as “non-registration under SEBI and RBI Act”.

The CBI has named Saradha chief Sen and Trinamul MP Kunal Ghosh, who used to head the group’s media wing, in the three FIRs. FIRs have also been lodged against Manoj Nagel, the director of Saradha Realty; Debjani Mukherjee, Saradha’s executive director; Arvind Chauhan, an employee; and Somnath Dutta, the group’s vice-president.

The FIR also includes Saradha Tours and Travels.

“It is also alleged that accused persons and unknown others have fraudulently not accounted for all the cash receipts in the books of accounts and diverted major part of funds for their personal gain,” the FIR states.

The FIR said that the directors of Saradha Tours and Travels had “dishonestly” opened 20 accounts in various banks to avoid scrutiny of its cash-collection business by not keeping too much money in one account. The banks “never became suspicious of so many accounts and huge cash inflow and outflow in accounts”, the FIR adds.

The FIR mentions that Sen, in connivance with other accused persons, had floated “more than 160 companies with an intention to divert funds within a span of 1-2 months — January 2011-February 2011”.

The CBI has found that more than 60 companies had been set up to siphon off cash collected by Saradha Tours and Travels.