The CBI probe into the Saradha chit fund scam has revealed that the market price of the accused group firm’s deposits worth Rs 2,460 crore was barely over Rs 40 crore.
Confirming this, an agency source said, “No major revenue was seen to be generated by any of the group firms.” Though one of the group companies, an export firm, was allegedly even in the process of establishing offices at several international destinations including Madrid in Spain, the accused firms did not invest the deposits to develop any profitable business enterprise to payback or refund the investors.
Instead, the accused firms are suspected to have frittered away the collections over incorporating 160 firms, opening and maintaining 320 branches across eastern India and paying 30% commission to its army of around 2.21 lakh agents who got in touch with the investors to defraud them, said the source.
“The deposits were spent on overheads including takeovers and loss-making ventures like television channels, newspapers and magazines, manufacturing automobiles, furniture, plant and machines, salaries paid to a huge staff, fleet of cars, 320 branch premises’ rent and daily expenses,” said the source.
In West Bengal alone, there were at least 18 lakh depositors who have filed claims for refunds, according to the source.
The probe found that the group firms had at least 345-plus accounts in around 15 banks, though the bank accounts do not reveal the details of the collections, said the source.
According to him, the details on the cash collections were not allegedly accurately shown in the book of accounts either and they were not KYC (know your customer) compliant.