Saradha chit fund case: Calcutta HC grants anticipatory bail to Nalini Chidambaram

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Published: February 18, 2019 4:37:14 PM

Nalini had moved her application apprehending arrest a day after the CBI filed a charge sheet against her in a Kolkata court.

Nalini is the wife of former Finance minister P Chidambaram. (File/PTI)

The Calcutta High Court has granted anticipatory bail to Nalini Chidambaram in the Saradha chit fund case and said that she cannot be arrested. The court has fixed the next hearing in the case after 6 weeks. Nalini is the wife of former Finance minister P Chidambaram.

The decision comes after she was granted interim protection in January by the Madras High Court, which protected her from arrest by the CBI till she obtains regular anticipatory bail from a jurisdictional court in West Bengal.

The Enforcement Directorate had registered an Enforcement Case Information Report (ECIR) in the matter under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act. Nalini had moved her application apprehending arrest a day after the CBI filed a charge sheet against her in a Kolkata court. It is alleged that she had received Rs 1.4 crore from Saradha group of companies, which was involved in the scam.

Saradha chit fund case

The case pertains to Saradha financial scheme that promised high returns for small investments. Businessmen Sudipto Sen established the Saradha Group in the early 2000s. The company collected money through a wide network of agents who were reportedly paid 25% commissions.

Saradha raised Rs 2,500 crore in just a few years. It even managed to get film stars for endorsements of its schemes and made investment in football clubs, purchased ownership in media groups, sponsored cultural events like Durga Puja.

They were able to expand their footprints in Assam, Tripura and Odisha and had a strong investors base of 17 lakh. TMC MP Satabdi Roy and Bollywood star Mithun Chakraborty were once Saradha’s brand ambassadors.

The company was issuing secured debentures and redeemable preferential bonds to the public in violation of SEBI rules.

SEBI bars companies from raising capital from more than 50 people without issuing a proper prospectus and balance sheet. It is also necessary for the companies to obtain SEBI’s nod to operate and get their accounts audited.

The crisis started in 2012 when SEBI asked the group to stop accepting money from investors and obtain the regulator’s permission to run its schemes. Soon after that, the second blow came in January 2013 when for the first time Saradha Group’s cash inflow was lower than its outflow. By April, the scheme had collapsed, which led the situation prompting agents and investors to file hundreds of police complaints.

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