The market intelligence wing of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has handed over to the West Bengal finance department a list of 194 dubious financial entities still collecting deposits illegally from different parts of the state.
The apex bank has also cautioned the state government that in absence of an immediate crackdown, the activities of such entities can trigger another Saradha-like financial scam.
One of the largest scams in the country, the Saradha chit fund incident came to light in 2013 that sunk more than Rs 2,500 crore and ruined lakhs of depositors and agents. The group raised money mainly from Bengal and partly from the North East, Odisha and Jharkhand.
Another fund Rose Valley also sunk and it has reportedly taken about Rs 15,000 crore of depositors money down with it. A number of other deposit-raising companies such as MPS group, I-Core, Rahul Group, Silicon group went bust runing lakhs of depositors. Driven by despair, more than 100 agents and depositors committed suicide in 2013-14 in Bengal.
Sources from the apex bank told HT that its market intelligence wing has also handed over to the state government supportive documents about these 194 dubious entities. These documents are newspaper advertisements, company brochures and pamphlets making claims of abnormally high returns and displaying pictures of politicians and celebrities endorsing the schemes to the public.
“Over 80% of these dubious financial entities are operating under the garb of planation scheme operators. Most of them have their registered offices at Kolkata, but their area of collecting deposits are mainly in the remote villages of districts like North 24 Parganas, South 24 Parganas, Hooghly, Burdwan, Birbhum, Bankura and Purulia,” said an apex bank official on condition of anonymity.
In September the RBI regional director in Kolkata, Rekha Warrior, said in a press conference that the apex bank is probing around 200 financial entities that are illegally collecting deposits from the market in West Bengal.
Besides handling over the list of 194 entities to the state finance department, the RBI has also shared the information about such entities with the different banks operating in West Bengal.
“The bankers have been also directed to regularly goad the state government to act against such entities at the periodic meetings of the State Level Bankers’ Committee, West Bengal. This committee has representatives from both banks and the state government,” the apex bank official said.
The market intelligence wing of RBI is currently finding out details of the backgrounds of promoters of these dubious entities. “Once we are ready with more details we will hand over the same to the state government as well as to different central agencies specialising in economic crimes such as the Enforcement Directorate and the Serious Fraud Investigation Office,” said the RBI bank official.
Central Bureau (CBI) is investigating the chit fund scam after the supreme court handed over the investigation to the agency.