West Bengal government afraid of CBI probe: Manik Sarkar

Kolkata/Agartala : Tripura Chief Minister Manik Sarkar Monday said the Trinamool Congress-led West Bengal government is afraid of a CBI probe into the chit fund scam as the “truth would be revealed against the ruling party”.

“People want a CBI (Central Bureau of Investigation) inquiry into the chit fund scam in the state. But West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee became frightened when she heard the name of CBI,” Sarkar told reporters in North 24 Parganas district of West Bengal.

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He said: “We (Tripura government), Assam and Odisha government have already asked the CBI to probe the activities of the chit funds in the states. In West Bengal, the Saradha Group and Trinamool are hand in glove. The symbol of honesty has turned into a symbol of scam.”

Sarkar, also a member of the CPI-M (Communist Party of India-Marxist) politburo, who is now campaigning in West Bengal for the party candidates, said: “People are saying that the Trinamool Congress’s chief is using the helicopter funded by the Saradha Group during her election campaign.”

Meanwhile, Tripura Finance Minister Badal Chaudhury said in Agartala: “The CBI started the investigation last year in a few chit fund related cases after a request by the Tripura government.”

He said that complaints lodged with police and the administration by the depositors alleged that Rs.29.13 crore has been siphoned off by these chit funds in Tripura.

“But the total amount collected by them would be much higher.”

He said the state government has so far filed 78 cases and the CID (Criminal Investigation Department) is conducting the investigations.

“The Tripura government has referred 37 cases to the CBI but the agency has taken up investigation of only seven cases,” said Chaudhury.

The finance minister said the Tripura government has formed an economic offence wing in each district under the leadership of the superintendent of police.

Chaudhury said the Centre has not responded positively to the state government’s request for enacting a comprehensive central legislation for regulating the unauthorised chit funds to protect the interests of the depositors and investors.

After getting no response from the central government, the Tripura government passed a law in 2011 to deal with these organisations, he said.

Unauthorised chit fund companies have mushroomed in the northeastern region in recent years. They lure depositors by promising exceptionally high rates of interest ranging from 25 percent to 30 percent. After collecting the money, they quietly shut down their operations and vanish.

The Non-Banking Financial Companies or the chit fund companies which are not recognised by the Reserve Bank of India, the Insurance Regulatory Development Authority or the Securities and Exchange Board of India cannot conduct any monetary business or take deposits from people.