Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) sleuths arrested a father son duo who are the promoters of Prayag Group on Wednesday. Chairman of the group, Basudeb Bagchi (father) and director Avik Bagchi (son) were arrested after a grilling session that lasted for about five hours at the agency’s office at the CGO complex in Salt Lake.
In May 2013, the offices of the group were raided by Kolkata Police after chief minister Mamata Banerjee announced her resolve to crack down on the deposit-raising companies.
“There are more 150 FIRs against Prayag group apart from hundreds of complaints filed by depositors who have formed an association that is fighting cases in Calcutta high court. CBI made the arrests today on the basis of those complaints,” said Arindam Das, a lawyer for the depositors.
Sections of the Prize Chit and Money Circulation (Banning) Act, misappropriation of funds and criminal conspiracy were slapped against both.
The group grabbed eyeballs in 2012 when Basudeb Bagchi announced that they are going to set up a film city spread over 2,700 acre in Chandrakona of West Midnapore district. Shah Rukh Khan was appointed to endorse the Rs 1,000 crore project. He inaugurated it on April 15, 2012.
CBI and Enforcement Directorate are probing a number of deposit-raising companies as a part of their investigation into the chit fund scam which was ordered by supreme court in 2013.
In 2013 the word also went around that the project encroached upon 350 acre of government land that was initially overlooked by the administration.
In its website Prayag Group introduced itself as a group with interests in more than a dozen sectors such as real estate, hotels and resorts, biscuits and cakes, packaged drinking water, FMCG products, tea, pineapple processing unit, news & electronic media, cements, block tiles, fly ash bricks, fisheries, poultry, composite farming, aviation and other projects.
However, its most ambitious project was setting up a film city and that would also double up as a tourism destination.
CBI officers interrogated the duo on the deposits that it raised down the years for its projects. When their answers failed to satisfy them, the sleuths decided to arrest them.
The Prayag bosses will be produced in court on Thursday. It raised money in West Bengal and the neighbouring states.
The group produced two films. The first was Chaya Manush starring Saumitra Chatterjee, Parambrata Chatterjee, Paoli Dam and Raima Sen. It was released in February 2014. The second one was Jole Jongole and Mithun Chakraborty, Asish Vidyarthi, Jackie Shroff nd Tinnu Anand acted. It is supposed to be released this year. The production of this film started in 2013/14 when Chakraborty was a Trinamool Congress MP in Rajya Sabha.
The group was set up in 2002.