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349 FIRs,388 seizures,41 arrests: HC apprised of probe progress

A total of 41 persons have so far been arrested in the scam,the court has also been informed.

Written by Kanchan Chakraborty | Kolkata | Published: June 11, 2013 3:49:30 am

A status report on police investigations placed before the Calcutta High Court today,has revealed that so far 349 FIRs have been lodged and 388 assets have been impounded in connection with the multi-crore Saradha scam. A total of 41 persons have so far been arrested in the scam,the court has also been informed.

It was also revealed that the state government has floated a global tender to appoint a company to assess the valuation of the assets of the Saradha Group seized by the police so far. The tender process is almost complete,said an official of the state government.

According to an official of the Special Investigation Team,set up by the state government,assistance from a professional firm was required as the valuation of the assets of the Saradha Group was very difficult and it was beyond the police’s ambit.

Meanwhile,on the demand for a CBI probe in the scam,the Division Bench of Justices Ashim Kumar Banerjee and Mrinal Kanti Chaudhury,asked amicus curiae Lakhi Gupta if the court should interfere in the investigations at this stage.

“The High Court would think about the CBI probe later on. But Gupta should consider the Public Interest Litigations,which has sought a CBI probe into the Saradha scam.”

The Division Bench sought to know Gupta’s views about a proposal to set up a committee involving separate agencies of the state government,central government and the High Court to monitor the probe to be carried out by the committee.

The Bench also told Gupta to collect information about the procedure adopted by the Sanchayita Commission to return money to the depositors. In the early 80s,following the Sanchayita investment scam,the government had worked out a scheme to return the money to the depositors. Gupta would express his views to the high court tomorrow.

Earlier,government pleader Ashoke Banerjee handed over documents to the court on the total FIRs lodged against Saradha Group and its associates,and lists of assets impounded by the police. Of the 349 FIRs,342 FIRs are lodged with the state police and seven with the Kolkata Police. Of the 388 assets seized,160 properties of the Saradha Group have been seized outside the state.

While opposing the plea for a CBI probe into the scam,Banerjee pleaded that the PIL was filed under the influence of some political party. There was no research work in the petition and it was collected from media reports,he said.

Banrejee urged the High Court to decide about the CBI probe on the basis of the progress and status report of the investigation. “Is there any fault or lack of fairness in the probe?” Banerjee asked.

Referring to several sections of the SEBI Act,the government pleader also alleged that the SEBI did not properly discharge its responsibility on the affairs of Saradha. “So,the state government was the proper authority to investigate into the Saradha scam,” he argued.

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