The Rise and Fall of Bengal's Biggest Fraudster

It was Sen’s media foray that made him a household name, pretty much as it ensured his presence in the corridors of power, more importantly the Trinamool Congress. Ironically, it also brought him down…


the-rise-and-fall-of-bengal“To err is human. One must not take that into account. It is harmful for oneself. One gets into the habit of finding fault,” Saradamani Mukhopadhyay, better known as Sarada Devi or Maa Sarada, had said. But even in her wildest imaginations-the spiritual leader, who was Ramakrishna Paramhansa’s wife-must not have thought that Sudipta Sen, the Chairman of the Saradha group, which has allegedly defrauded thousands of depositors, would take her words so seriously.
Bengal’s most wanted, now under arrest, in one of the biggest financial frauds, Sen’s biological parents were Nripendra Narayan Sen and Ranu Kana Sen (so says his passport). But that’s not interesting enough. In an 18-page “suicide note” to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), Sen has declared himself as the only son of Maa Saradha (that’s how he spells the name). “I am a strong follower of Maa Saradha (wife of Sri Sri Ram Krishna Paramhansa Deb) and I have fully dedicated myself to her and I have always treated myself to be the only son of Maa Saradha and have started my business not for becoming a rich man but to establish the ideals and ideologies of Maa Saradha, to help the poor and the needy, and to give a better life to the people of rural and semi-urban area of India,” the letter said.
That thousands of people from villages and small towns are now baying for his blood, courtesy his business, is another story. The name of his business bears testimony to his belief in “Maa Saradha”. The group’s more than 165 companies listed with the registrar of companies across West Bengal, Assam, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Rajasthan, all start with the name “Saradha”. Agents, too, vouch that their branch managers would always tell them how devout Sen was.
Apart from the higher commission and proximity to the State dispensation, agents had put their faith in “Saradha” companies. It was all in the name, for them. But Sen’s conduct belies the facade of a Sarada disciple. After all, “Maa Saradha” couldn’t possibly approve of running a fake motorcycle factory, where workers were paid to put up the act of portraying the factory as operational every time depositors and agents paid a visit. Sen’s empire was pretty expansive, but even after doing business in Bengal for more than two decades, and being in the limelight for the last three years, a handful of people can claim to “know” him.
His identity is shrouded in mystery. Sen’s passport gave a residential address, where no one knows him as “Sudipta”. His erstwhile neighbours in Survey Parkknow him as “Shankar”. But they have not seen him in the last 18 years, as he had to flee the area after he got involved in a scandal. Even the number of wives that Sen has ranges from two to six. Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee says, he has three. It is believed that Sen’s alliances actually gave away his details to the police out of spite over his relationship with Debjani Mukherjee, Saradha’s executive director, who was caught with him.
Mukherjee, who had joined Saradha Tours and Travels as a receptionist and telephone operator, rose to the rank of executive director in little time. She would even screen the people Sen met. Most people who have worked in the 10 media outfits of Sen-that include Channel 10, Tara channels, Sakalbela, Bengal Post-have never seen him. Senior journalists have probably met him once. That’s hardly surprising, given that Sen would hold meeting with his key people in the wee hours of the morning! It was Sen’s media foray that made him a household name, pretty much as it ensured his presence in the corridors of power, more importantly the Trinamool Congress. Ironically, it also brought him down.
– Business Standard


 New Chit Fund Bill To Have More Teeth

The Bill has been framed to protect depositor interest, to regulate and to impose restrictions on such financial establishments to curb unscrupulous activities and to make liable every person, including promoter, partner, director, manager and employee, responsible for the management…
Stringent measures, including seizure and confiscation of property, have been proposed to protect investors from money spooling companies in the much-awaited Bill being moved by the West Bengal Government following the Saradha Group scam.
Copies of the Bill, moved by Finance Minister Amit Mitra for consideration and passage, were circulated among members on the first day of a two-day special session of the Assembly recently. The West Bengal Protection of Interest of Depositors in Financial Establishments Bill, 2013, has provisions for powers to enter premises and inspect documents and search and seizure and confiscation of property.
Though Parliamentary Affairs Minister Partha Chatterjee had said the Bill will have retrospective effect, the word ‘retrospective’ is not used in the Bill. But the Bill says that a designated court which will look into these issues ‘may give direction to the competitive authority like the director of Economic Offences, for effective implementation of the provisions’, sources said. The Bill has been framed to protect depositor interest, to regulate and to impose restrictions on such financial establishments to curb unscrupulous activities and to make liable every person, including promoter, partner, director, manager and employee, responsible for the management.
The competent authority shall, after making an assessment of the deposit liabilities, apply before the designated court from time to time seeking permission for making payment to depositors from out of the money realised. The designated court shall be presided by a judge to be appointed by the State Government with concurrence of the chief justice of the Calcutta High Court. The earlier West Bengal Protection of Depositors Interest Bill 2009 introduced by the previous Left Front Government on December 22, 2009 will be withdrawn. Taking note of mushrooming of financial establishments in the State in the recent past, the Bill says it is observed that such establishments have been gaining wrongfully by receiving money as deposits from the public, particularly of the middle class and poorer sections of the society.
These financial establishments, it said, did this by making impracticable or commercially not viable promises or by offering highly attractive rates of interest or rewards, with the intention of not fulfilling the obligation of refunding the deposits on maturity or with intention of not rendering proper services assured, to the investors at the time of accepting the deposits. It said that such fraudulent defaults in payments by financial establishments has been causing great resentment and uproar among the public, which in turn, is responsible for creating various law and order problems, besides causing many cases of human tragedies. According to Congress leader Manas Bhuinya, 98 per cent of the contents of the new Bill has provisions of the previous Bill. “If implemented the Bill will have no power to punish offenders,” he said.
– PTI

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