The Economic Offences Wing (EOW) of the Crime Branch has chalked out a list of 50 companies which are now under its scanner for running various money circulation schemes across the State and drawing in crores of rupees from customers promising them huge returns on their investments.
Each of these firms makes a turnover of at least `1 crore a month, if preliminary assessment is anything to go by. This means, at least `600 crore is being circulated by these companies through various short-term and long-term schemes, which offer massive interest rates ranging from 15 per cent to 40 per cent.
The EOW of the Crime Branch, which raided one finance company, Ashore, and arrested four of its staff on Friday, has found that most of these firms have their operations concentrated on five places. While they all operate from Bhubaneswar, most of the firms have a huge base in rural pockets of Cuttack district. Balasore district, which has reported more of such chit fund scams, is another haven for money circulation schemes while Berhampur, which has a tradition of money-lending business, is the fourth centre.
Of late, Angul has emerged as another centre for the scheme promoters. “With industries coming up, land acquisition being taken up, people have liquidity and this has lured in the the firms to this pocket lately. The business here has been strong since the firms offer unbelievable rate of returns, which, people fail to understand, is totally unsustainable,” Additional Director-General of Police of Crime Branch Bijay Kumar Sharma said.
The EOW has been investigating three similar cases in the past, including the Balasore chit fund scandal, involving Bollywood actor Naseer Khan, Sai Pragati and Star Consultancy. While the business of Sai Pragati and Star Consultancy is believed to be to the tune of `50 crore, Sharma said the Balasore chit fund scam involved well over `300 crore.
While the 50 firms that the CB is keeping a close watch on are big fishes, there are numerous small operators which have networks in rural pockets of the these areas.
“It is a dichotomous situation. While people lose money, they don’t report it to the police until these companies have disappeared making it difficult for us to make any recovery financially,” the CB chief said. In fact, the promoters of these firms invest in land, properties and lead lavish lifestyles to squander the public money.
The EOW has been tracking and monitoring the firms through their websites, surrogate advertisements as well as campaign materials.
Since the Crime Branch has been finding dealing with such huge financial transactions a tough job, it has decided to appoint a chartered account to study the cash flow statement and credit-debit statements of the firms whose operations it is currently probing.