Crackdown against chit fund group in Tripura

Agartala, May 11 (IANS) The Tripura government has launched a crackdown against Rose Valley, one of the biggest chit fund companies in eastern India. Two executives of the group have been arrested and documents have been seized, an official said here Saturday.

“Raids in Rose Valley’s main office in Tripura began late Friday and are continuing. Police arrested the company’s regional director Ashok Saha and branch manager of the Agartala office Anupam Bhattacharjee late Friday night,” sub-divisional magistrate (Sadar) Manik Lal Das told IANS.

Das, who led the team in the crackdown, said: “When the raids began, thousands of agents gathered at the main office of Rose Valley here and surrounded the local police station fearing loss of business.”

A huge contingent of security forces have been deployed in the capital city to prevent any untoward incident following the arrest of Rose Valley officials and sealing of its offices here.

India’s market regulator, Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI), had earlier banned the Kolkata-based Rose Valley and several other non-banking financial companies (NBFCs) from accepting deposits from the public.

Established in 1999 as a public limited company, the Rose Valley group is registered under the Companies Act, 1956. It has been operating in eastern and northeastern states of India and has business interests in hospitals, films, hotels, amusement parks, real estate and construction, industrial ventures besides collection of deposits.

Raids by police and district administration officials are being conducted at the offices of NBFCs across Tripura for the past two weeks. Several documents and properties have been seized.

With the arrest of two executives of the Rose Valley group, nine important decision-making high officials — including a woman — of five chit fund organisations have been arrested in western Tripura since April 27.

“The raids and seizures, which were launched recently across Tripura, would continue till the illegal activities of the NBFCs are curbed,” an official of Tripura’s small savings and institutional finance told reporters.

Reports of closure of Rose Valley offices in Bihar, Jharkhand and Odisha following raids have also added to the panic among the agents of the company in Tripura.

“Shutting down of Rose Valley would be catastrophic as lakhs of people, mostly from middle class and poorer sections, have invested in various schemes of the group. The company also has around one lakh agents, mostly unemployed youths,” said Sukla Chakraborty, an agent of Rose Valley, who has invested over Rs 16 lakh in the company.

The Left Front government in Tripura recently asked the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to probe the illegal activities of the NBFCs and Unincorporated Bodies (UIBs), which dupe people after accepting deposits on the promise of high returns.

After Assam, Tripura is the second state to request a CBI probe the unlawful activities of the NBFCs and UIBs, following a major chit fund scam in West Bengal.

Tripura Chief Minister Manik Sarkar had said earlier: “The Left Front government is determined to stop the illegal operation of chit funds in the state.”

Sarkar added that 27 NBFCs have already shut down their offices in Tripura after collecting Rs.23.16 crore from people, and 90 such organisations are still working in the state.

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