Sell my properties,pay investors: Sen to panel

In 1996,he set up Saradha Construction,a real estate firm that is now spread across the country

Written by Sabyasachi Bandopadhyay | Kolkata | Published:September 21, 2013 2:26 am

In 1996,he set up Saradha Construction,a real estate firm that is now spread across the country. Five months ago,he was arrested for cheating crores of people. In between times,Sudipta Sen,founder of Saradha Group,became the owner of 160 companies worth an estimated Rs 5,000 crore.

The overwhelming tale was corroborated by none other than Sen himself on Friday when he appeared before the Justice (retd) Shyamal Sen Commission to testify in Saradha scam probe,and to figure out ways to return the investors’ money.

The testimony,however,started becoming less convincing as the businessman began listing names of his companies involved in the ponzi scheme.

Launched “only” in 2008,the schemes,Sen said,were managed,again “only”,by four companies — Saradha Tours and Travels,Saradha Realty,Saradha Housing,and Saradha Garden Resorts & Hotel.

“He said his memory did not help and he could not remember the names of the companies. He said his accountants,Ashok Biswas and Tarun Roy,would be able to reveal everything,which we will examine,’’ Justice Sen said after the hearing.

Relief for 800 investors,of the 18 lakh complainants,would come before Durga Puja,as Sen promised to pay back their money by October 10.

“We have prepared a list of another one lakh people who would be paid gradually,” Sen added.

The list of receivers was chosen by spelling out names of those who invested from Rs 1,000 to Rs 10,000 and whose policies would have matured by 2013.

As far as the money for payment to investors is concerned,the Commission will use the Rs 500-crore funds approved by the state government. For the remaining investors,the commission will attach the properties of the group,proceeds from the sale of which will be used for paying them.

Although the order to use the properties to pay off the investors was passed by a Division bench of the Calcutta High Court on June 19,and therefore the companies’ properties would have been used anyway,Sudipta himself called upon the Commission to sell his properties off and repay the investors; he,however,did request the commission’s chairman to verify the authenticity of the claims from the investors.

“He said he has enough properties to make the repayments. He said had the media not tarnished his image,he would have reconstructed his affairs and paid back the money,’’ Justice Sen said.

Sen,along with two other company officials,Debjani Mukherjee and Arvind Chouhan,was arrested from Srinagar in April following the group going bust. Since then they have been in jail.

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