West Bengal, it seems, is slowly turning out to be the hotbed of fraudulent or Ponzi schemes in India.
Activists of the Congress party shout slogans against the arrested chairman of Saradha group, Sudipta Sen, outside the court in Kolkata. AFP photo
Data collated by the government show more than 8 out of 10 multi-level marketing and finance schemes against which authorities have received complaints are run out of West Bengal.
State-wise details of such schemes against which government agencies have received complaints, show the proliferation of such suscpicious schemes in West Bengal that have raised thousands of crores of rupees from gullible investors, official data reviewed by HT show.
As on March 14, 2013, the government had received complaints against 87 companies from across the country that were suspected to be carrying out Ponzi or multi-level schemes.
As many as 73 or 84% of these companies are from West Bengal and more than 30 or nearly half of these are believed to be related to the scam-scarred Sudipta Sen-promoted Saradha group.
There are nine companies in this list that bear the name Saradha in their incorporation details. The other firms from West Bengal against whom the government has received complaints for running Ponzi schemes include Vibgyor Allied Infrastructure, Rose Valley Real Estates Constructions , Rose Valley Industries , Silver Valley Communications, Modern Investment Traders, Rupasi Bangla Projects India, RTC Properties India, Goldmine Agro, Tower Infotech, Chakra Infrastructure, Gold Field Agro, ICore E-Service, MPS Aqua Marine Products, MPS Greenery Developers , Prayag Infotech Hi-Rise, Prayag Infra Realtors , Rahul Hi-Rise, Ramel Industries and URO Agro India among others.
In addition, the Registrar of Companies has sought information and explanations from 42 companies in West Bengal on funding issues.
It also appears now that the government may have ignored repeated warnings against the Saradha group's investment schemes.
"Some of these complaints were received as early as 2011 but no concrete action was initiated," said a source who did not wish to be identified.
The government last week announced a multi-agency probe involving the Serious Frauds Organisation Office (SFIO), the Enforcement Directorate (ED), the Income Tax department and the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI).