The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has zeroed in on at least four senior officials, including two of market regulator Sebi and a retired manager of the Reserve Bank of India, for their alleged role in laundering huge amounts of money in the multi-crore Saradha financial scam.
The agency, which has already made two arrests in connection with the ponzi scheme in West Bengal — East Bengal Club executive member Debabrata Sarkar on Wednesday and businessman Sandhir Agarwal on Saturday — had put the said officials, all from regulatory organisations, under the scanner. The investigation against them is now at an advanced stage.
Significantly, the Enforcement Directorate (ED), which is probing into the money laundering aspect of the scam, had found several “serious irregularities” in the functioning of these officials.
The ED had also interrogated these four along with several others. They include a retired RBI manager, a top official in the Registrar of Companies, Kolkata, and two Sebi officials. They are accused of “lapses”, and investigators revealed that they “compromised on their official responsibility” and had allegedly accepted huge “bribes” to look the other way. Sources in the CBI said the agency has collected proof about their involvement.
Earlier CBI sleuths during raids across several locations across the country, had seized documents that showed how certain officials tried to cover up the business of Saradha Group chief Sudipta Sen.
For instance, in 2009, 140 companies of Saradha Group were registered with the ROC, Kolkata in a span of four days. Significantly, more than 50 of these 140 companies were registered on a Saturday, revealed a senior official of Union finance ministry. Officially, the ROC is closed on Saturday.
“RBI and Sebi are equally responsible (for the scam). While Sebi officers were sitting on the Saradha files, RBI did not inspect the company even though it has the power to do so. The vigilance commission in Sebi has already conducted an internal inquiry into the malpractices of some of its officers. A report has been submitted to both the ED and the CBI,” the official said.
He added that the ROC, Kolkata also played a major role in the scam. “Every year, ROC used to receive the balance sheets of the company. They should have identified the irregularities… Most of the balance sheets of the company are now found to be fake and mostly with manipulated data,” he said.