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Monday, Sep 23, 2019

Rs100 crore credit cooperative society scam in Jaisalmer

The investors are running from pillar to post to recover the money as the promoter, who has links to a political party, is absconding.

jaipur Updated: Jun 16, 2018 21:55 IST
Urvashi Dev Rawal 
Urvashi Dev Rawal 
Hindustan Times, Jaipur
Surendra Singh Bhati, founder of the Sai Kripa Credit Cooperative Society.
Surendra Singh Bhati, founder of the Sai Kripa Credit Cooperative Society.(HT Photo )

A credit cooperative society in Jaisalmer cheated thousands of investors of their hard earned money amounting to around Rs 100 crore. The investors are running from pillar to post to recover the money as the promoter, who has links to a political party, is absconding.

Surendra Singh Bhati, managing director of the Sai Kripa Credit Cooperative Society, is absconding for past 12 months.

The credit society was set up in Jaisalmer around 10 years ago. Things were fine till 2015 and investors were regularly getting their dividends, says Vijayant Purohit, 24, who has formed a sangharsh samiti of investors who were cheated.

But from November 2015, things got shaky and the society started shutting its branches. In April 2016, Surendra Singh absconded.

Since then the investors have met police officials, the SP, collector, Jaisalmer MLA Chhotu Bhati, Jaisalmer MP Col Sonaram seeking to speed up the investigation but without much success.

Purohit says so far 15 FIRs have been filed at the Sadar Thana police station against the company directors Surendra Singh Bhati, his brothers Dinesh Singh Bhati, and Ramchandra Bhati and Dinesh’s wife Pawan Kanwar, who was a member in the credit society.

“There are about 2000 people who have been defrauded but the police were not filing complaints initially. We then approached the court which directed the police to investigate the matter,” he said.

“The police have clubbed several complaints under 11 FIRs. But they are delaying action as the family is politically influential,” said Purohit.

Surendra Singh’s wife Usha is the Congress party’s pradhan from Sam, while his brother Dineshpal Singh is the former vice-president of the district Congress committee. Dinesh’s wife Pawan Kanwar was a member in the Sai Kripa society.

Ramchandra is chairman of the Mohan Kripa Credit Cooperative Society, which is registered in Delhi and has operations in several states.

“It’s been 18 months since the fraud came to light. Surendra’s brothers Dinesh and Ramchandra and Pawan Kanwar are in Jaisalmer but the police have not even questioned them,” says Purohit.

Derawar Singh, the investigation officer, says the police are probing the case. “We are on the lookout for Surendra Singh. We have collected documents from his associates and family members. We will catch him soon,” he said.

But that is of little comfort for hundreds of small investors who have lost their money. Some had saved for children’s education or marriages and some had put in their life savings.

Keku Devi, 65, who is a widow, had invested her savings of Rs1 lakh. Keku Devi’s son is bed-ridden after an accident some years back. The mother and son are now finding it difficult to earn their livelihood and their savings are also gone, says Purohit.

Shaitan Singh, 49, who works at a petrol pump in the city, said, “I invested Rs1,12,000 in 2011 in my daughter’s name. The credit society’s agent told me I would get Rs 2 lakh in 8 years. But I have got nothing,” he says.

He says the company used to put in big advertisements in local papers and on TV channels which reassured people. “The owners, Surendra and Dinesh, used to post photos with prominent Congress leaders and we felt our money was safe,” he said

Another investor, Vijay Shankar Ojha had invested Rs2.75 lakh and his brother had invested Rs2 lakh. Ojha, 47, who is an auto driver says, “All our hard earned money is gone.”

He, along with other investors, met Surendra Singh’s family members but they have been turned away. “They tell us they have no money to repay us,” says Ojha.

Jitendra Ojha, a 40-year-old priest, had invested Rs1 lakh. He says the credit society started deferring payments from November 2016. “They would tell us that there was cash scarcity due to demonetisation and once new notes came into the market, things would be fine. However, one day they just shut the credit society branch.”

The accused, meanwhile, used the money to expand their business and live a life of luxury.

“We have seen the family. They were not well off but after they opened the credit society, they bought several properties in Jodhpur and Mumbai and a fleet of luxury cars,” says Purohit.

Jaisalmer SP Gaurav Yadav said police is on Surendra Singh Bhati’s trail. “We have got information about him and police teams have been sent to different locations in Rajasthan and Mumbai.”

Yadav said the police could not arrest the other accused as there is no evidence to link them to the fraud. “Only when the main accused is arrested will we be able to show links with other members of the family and take action.”

Calls made to Dinesh Singh Bhati’s mobile were answered by someone who said it was the wrong number.

An online advertisement for the company states that Surendra Singh Bhati started the Sai Kripa credit cooperative society in 2009 and within a year he opened 21 branches with Rs 25 crore of investors’ money. In 2010, he ventured into real estate and wealth management and opened eight companies in Mumbai. In all, he has 17 companies and 28 branches with a turnover of Rs 100 crore.

First Published: Jun 16, 2018 21:55 IST