The process of attachment and liquidation of assets of financial firms accused of cheating hundreds of small and big depositors will not be affected by the CBI probe into the chit fund scam in Odisha.
The Economic Offences Wing (EOW) has been investigating bulk of the high-profile cases in the State. It has, so far, recommended an interim attachment of assets of 10 chit fund firms while Commissionerate of Police has sent in proposal for another.
The Finance department has sanctioned property attachment in eight of the cases probed by EOW and the designated authorities are taking up the cases before the authorised courts. Sources in the EOW on Friday said all these proceedings will remain intact even after the CBI takes over the cases.
The cumulative assets of these 10 firms proceeded against by EOW is estimated to be between `700 crore and `800 crore. Added to it is the case of Artha Tatwa (AT) Group which is being handled by the Commissionerate of Police. Its assets, proposed for attachment, stands at about `350 crore.
“The hearing by the designated court will take place as usual which means the process initiated for reimbursement of the deposits to the investors is not going to be affected by the CBI probe,” the sources added.
As per the Odisha Protection of Interest of Depositors (in Financial Establishments) Act, if the designated courts order auction of the assets at the end of the judicial proceedings, depositors will be entitled to get back their investment.
On the other hand, the national investigating agency will have its task cut out in the chit fund scam since the Supreme Court has directed probe into 44 firms operating in Odisha, apart from others in West Bengal, Assam and Tripura. The EOW has registered as many as 207 cases relating to 43 of the 44 companies and arrested 440 persons so far. Chargesheet has been filed in 120 cases.
In West Bengal, another 440 cases have been filed relating to Saradha Group. The total number of cases to be taken up for investigation by the CBI would stand at over 1,000 if one takes into account the cases registered in Assam and Tripura.
“The CBI handles close to 1,100 cases in a year. The chit fund scams in Odisha, West Bengal, Assam and Tripura have as many cases, if not more. This means the national agency will have to set up separate camp offices to track all the cases and start investigation,” the sources added.
Ever since the chit fund scam came to the fore and investigation began, as many as 163 companies have been booked by the EOW and district police in as many as 430 cases in the State. The total volume of deposits involved could be in excess of `4,500 crore as per a rough estimate.