Bengal Ex-Governor's Name Crops Up in Ponzi Scam

Published: 21st July 2014 06:00 AM  |   Last Updated: 21st July 2014 01:28 AM   |  A+A-

Narayanan

KOLKATA: Former West Bengal Governor M K Narayanan’s name has now been linked to a ponzi fund company, which collected huge funds from the market using the photograph of a programme which he had attended along with its absconding directors.

Narayanan might now be summoned by the Commission of Inquiry as well as the Special Investigation Team (SIT) probing the chit fund companies in the state.

According to sources, Narayanan had attended a sports programme organised by Viva Group at the Vivekananda Yuba Bharati sports stadium here. The firm has reportedly collected crores of rupees from depositors across the state using his name and the photograph.

The company has allegedly used his photograph in its brochures and propaganda material to gain credibility and depositors’ trust.

Now, many depositors have lodged complaints against Viva Group with various police stations in the state and with the Commission of Inquiry (CoI) headed by former SC Judge Shyamal Sen, which is also inquiring the Rs 2,500-crore Saradha scam. Both SIT and CoI are in possession of the photographs and Narayanan’s speech at the programme and they are inquiring the grounds on which he attended such an event. They would first talk to the former Governor over phone to ascertain the facts and if needed visit him at his residence in Chennai.

Many depositors have complained against Viva Group to the CoI and also lodged criminal cases against its three directors -- Shamim Akhtar, Najma Akhtar and Rahimasum Akhtar. They alleged that the company had launched the scheme in 2010 and assured them gold against their deposits after a certain period of time.

The group also used its travel and tours company and real estate business to collect funds against various schemes. Viva Group opened a corporate office in the metropolis and mainly concentrated on the Muslim majority districts of Malda and Murshidabad, where they opened a large number of branches.

Mijubar Rahman of Murshidabad, who had deposited `50,000 with the company, was to get gold in 2014. As the company directors fled, he lodged a police complaint.

The depositors complained that a three-day sports programme was held by Viva Group in October 2010 and it was attended by the Governor, who also delivered a speech, lending  credence to the company.

After the programme, they said, Viva Group distributed brochures and booklets and its agents convinced them that the deposits would be safe since such “big names” were associated with the company.

The SIT has found that Viva Group has collected thousands of crores from the people without any permission from either the SEBI or the RBI. It is now probing whether the Governor’s Office was duped in the name of a sports programme and why the officials did not bother to enquire about the company and its directors’ background.

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