Tripura at CBI’s door over deposits

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By OUR SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT
  • Published 9.05.13
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Agartala, May 8: After Assam, Tripura has now decided to approach the Centre, asking that the cases involving deposit-collecting companies such as the Saradha Group be handed over to the CBI.

“Initially, the CBI will look into 15 complaints filed by customers in various police stations across the state against deposit-collecting companies,” Tripura chief minister Manik Sarkar told reporters last evening after a cabinet meeting where the government had decided to hand over the cases to the central investigating agency.

Assam had written to the Centre on May 6, requesting a CBI inquiry into 15 cases involving 12 deposit-collecting companies.

Sarkar’s government has faced flak in the Assembly with the Opposition Congress charging the ruling Left Front with dereliction of duty and failure to protect the money that small investors had paid to deposit-collecting companies.

It was on persistent demands from the Opposition that Sarkar declared that the government would have no objection to the cases involving deposit-collecting companies being handed over to the CBI.

The first part of the current session of the Assembly, which began on April 26, ended on May 2. The Assembly will meet again on May 13 and May 14.

“The state chief secretary will soon write to the CBI chief with a copy of the cabinet resolution as is normally required,” Sarkar said. He, however, iterated his stand that dubious deposit-collecting companies existed because the Centre had failed to enact an all-encompassing act that could prevent their operations.

“We had informed the Centre that these deposit-collecting companies come to the state with licences issued by Sebi or Reserve Bank of India and launch operations and there is nothing we can do unless there is a conspicuous violation of criminal law,” Sarkar said.

“However, by the time this happens, it is already too late and the deposit-collecting company has by then already left the state with entire deposits.” He demanded that states be empowered to issue licences to and monitor such businesses. “Only then can we keep such companies in check,” he said.

Thirty-one deposit-collecting companies have so far fled Tripura, while 90 are still operating in the state, Sarkar said. “These companies have businesses in other states as well. Given the inter-state dimension to the matter, we have decided to hand over investigation to the CBI .”

Tripura had failed to properly implement till 2009 an act that its Assembly had passed in 2000 to deal with deposit-collecting companies. Sarkar, who has been chief minister for four consecutive terms now, conceded that his government had failed to rein in deposit-collecting companies despite the legislation.

“We had amended the act in 2011 to give it more teeth and action is now being taken under it to deal with these companies,” he said.