The Enforcement Directorate froze more than 2,500 bank accounts of deposit-taking firm Rose Valley Group on Thursday, raising concerns about the fate of thousands of employees and investors.
ED sources said the consortium raised more money than the Saradha Group which is being probed by various investigating agencies after the collapse of its chit fund scheme in 2013 cost thousands of small investors about Rs 10,000 crore.
Kolkata-based Rose Valley has interests in real estate, hospitality, travel, media and jewellery and also sponsors an Indian Premier League cricket team.
The directorate questioned the organisation’s chairman Gautam Kundu and managing director Shibomay Datta at the ED’s CGO Complex office in Salt Lake.
Thousands of unlicensed financial schemes operate in India, many of which thrive with the protection of local politicians, experts say.
On June 18, capital markets regulator Sebi ordered Rose Valley to wind up its collective investment schemes, operated through its real estate and construction businesses, and repay investors within three months. The money collected by Rose Valley Real Estates and Constructions Ltd through a scheme called Ashirbad — meaning ‘a blessing’ — jumped from `1,358 crore to `2,016.32 crore in the financial year 2010-11, Sebi said.
The regulator ordered Rose Valley to submit the trail of funds, which the company said it repaid, apart from bank statements and receipts indicating refund to investors.
Rose Valley said Kundu was not summoned but visited the ED office to request that his 10,000 employees not be deprived of their salaries just before Durga Puja.
The collective investment scheme was discontinued in 2010, the company said.
(With agency inputs)