At a time when the Saradha meltdown has left scores of investors and depositors fretting over the fate of their savings parked at the rogue concern and other sham firms, many similar units with offices in West Midnapore continue to fleece gullible locals with lucrative offers and the promise of lands among other inducements.
Such concerns have reportedly been raking in hefty collections from across the district as part of micro-finance schemes. These shady firms, said sources, aren’t registered with the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI), but have permission from the Union ministry of corporate affairs to run their ‘group of companies.’
While scores of scam-hit have vented their outrage on streets and still more are wary about being lulled into similar misadventures, the ones behind those still in force have sought to shrug off any parallels with the shady chit fund operators and claimed the money parked by their clients is safe and would be returned with interest along with other inducements promised.
Topping the list of such firms is All Time Money Agro-Tech Limited, with its head office in West Midnapore. The district is further home to a number of branch and regional offices of other such concerns as Jasoda, Alchemist, ATM, Money Komol, Rahul Group, Shine India, Heaven Gardens, Basil and Ramel. These units have a network of agents, fanned out across the district and bringing home collections in lieu of lucrative offers. Top officials of these units said they have made similar forays into real estate and have business interests in several other sectors.
“We have been in this business over the last two years and have ventures in land and real estate as well. We have six offices spread out across the district and have purchased land for more at Keshpur, Lodhashuli, Pirakata and Bakhrabad near Belda. Our agents take our schemes to the locals and bring in collections in lieu of necessary documents from our end. We invest our collections in various sectors and our clients stand to take home a part of the returns. We have told our investors that we are raising funds for a product we’ve promised them and it would be delivered to them in due course,” Sheikh Elahi Baksh, branch manager of Jasoda Group of Companies, told HT.
A senior official of Money Komal, aired similar claims, saying they have been raising funds for a product promised to their clients and have business interests in such sectors as tourism.
“We aren’t registered with SEBI, but have been running our businesses under Companies Act, 1956 (of the ministry of corporate affairs),” the official said.