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Thursday, October 22, 2020

House passes new anti-ponzi scheme Bill,gives more teeth to courts

Chit funds and other such schemes are clearly a concern and all regulators should be more vigilant.

Written by PTI | Kolkata | December 13, 2013 4:59:13 am

The new West Bengal Protection of Interest of Depositors in Financial Establishments Bill,2013 was passed in the state Assembly Thursday,after withdrawing the earlier one following objections from the Centre.

The Bill was moved in the House by the state Finance Minister Amit Mitra incorporating some clauses as suggested by the union Finance Ministry.

The Ministry had raised objections and had sought clarifications from the Trinamool Congress-led state government on the earlier Bill.

Clarifications were sought on widening the powers of special designated courts dealing with cases related to chit funds and that no court could grant anticipatory bail. The new Bill was passed incorporating fresh provisions like attachment of property in case of default in payment of deposit and transfer of property.

Leader of Opposition in the Assembly Surya Kanta Mishra strongly criticised the fresh Bill describing it as an equally non-transparent one and said the withdrawal of the previous Bill was unconstitutional.

Mishra feared the new Bill would also fail to get a Presidential assent and said the move was an attempt by the government to protect the culprits involved in the ponzi scam.

He also demanded a CBI probe under the supervision of the Supreme Court and raised questions on giving compensation from the public exchequer.

Mitra,however,said the Justice Shyamal Kumar Sen Commission was set up following directives of the Calcutta High Court.

A similar Bill,introduced by the previous Left Fron government in 2003,did not get a Presidential nod.

The Left Front government did not withdraw the Bill when it was returned in 2006,but chose to introduce another legislation on the similar subject in 2008,which was subsequently passed in the House.

The TMC government decided to repeal the Bill passed by the LF government,which had not received the President’s nod.

On April 30,a new Bill titled the West Bengal Protection of Interest of Depositors in Financial Establishments Bill,2013,was passed in a two-day special session of the Assembly,having provisions for retrospective effect,search and seizure,enhanced penalties,establishment of special courts,confiscation of property.

The Bill,which was passed today,is more serious and stringent in nature and provides for confiscation of property of the fraudulent financial establishments. It also empowers investigating agencies to enter those establishments and inspect documents,Mitra said while tabling the Bill.

The scam-ridden Saradha group,which went bust in April this year leaving scores of aggrieved depositors,is facing a multi-agency probe for illegally raising deposits from investors across West Bengal and some other states.

The group’s chairman Sudipta Sen was arrested along with two others from Sonmarg in Kashmir Valley on April 23 last.

‘Regulators need to be vigilant’

RBI Governor Raghuram Rajan Thursday asked all regulators to be more vigilant in the wake of fraudulent money-pooling schemes and said there was a need to expand the reach of country’s banking system.

“Chit funds and other such schemes are clearly a concern and all regulators should be more vigilant,” Rajan told reporters after the apex bank’s central board meeting here.

“They take advantage of the regulatory arbitrage,” he added. Massive public outrage was witnessed in the wake of recent chit funds scam perpetrated by Kolkata-based Saradha group that defrauded thousands of investors of their hard earned money. The governor said RBI is trying to gather market intelligence and then inform the concerned authorities for taking appropriate action. “The state governments also need to pay attention,” he said.

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