After the Saradha chit fund scam that rocked several states in the eastern and north eastern region, the investigating agencies are now probing an education scam, which may be worth Rs 5,000 crore. The scam, with its roots in Sikkim, has spread its tentacles to many states including West Bengal, Delhi and Mumbai.
The Sikkim government, which has already registered cases against the Eastern Institute for Integrated Learning in Management (EIILM) University — believed to be at the centre of the scam — wrote a letter to the Enforcement Directorate to start investigation into the money laundering aspect. After conducting preliminary investigation, the Enforcement Directorate registered a case against the institute in March.
A senior ED official confirmed that a case under Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) has already been registered against the EIILM University. “We have registered a case. We are also investigating into the money laundering aspect. It is a parallel investigation as the Sikkim police has already submitted a chargesheet slapping charges of cheating, forgery and fabrication of documents. We are investigating into the money trail. It is estimated that the scam must be worth Rs 5,000 crore,” said a senior ED official.
Contacted, Jasbir Singh, DGP, Sikkim, said, “We had registered two cases against the institute a year ago.”
The institute started operating in Sikkim in 2006. For 2009-10, the Sikkim government granted it permission to run 46 courses under the private university act. EIILM was allowed to operate only in Sikkim and offer courses approved by the University Grants Commission. However, flouting all norms, the institute started operating 5,000 branches across India, including in Delhi, Mumbai and Kolkata. According to sources in ED, the institute does not have the permission to start distance learning courses, though it operated that way too. The university set up an offshore campus in Mauritius too.
Mandeep Singh Tuli, DIG, Range, Sikkim said, “The main campus of the EIILM is located at Zorethang in Sikkim. We registered a couple of cases and we have already submitted chargesheets. The ED is now looking into the money laundering aspect as huge amounts are involved in the scam”.
The ED, Kolkata unit, which has taken up the case, has already posted two officers in Sikkim. As per the preliminary investigation, the EIILM had appointed 17 coordinators. “A coordinator is based in Kolkata too. We have summoned all the coordinators,” said a senior ED official. “All the certificates that were issued to the students in last five years were fake and the admission fees were siphoned off,” he added.