Tripura to ask CBI to probe illegal chit funds in state

Agartala, May 8 (IANS) The Left Front government in the northeastern state of Tripura has decided to ask the CBI to probe the illegal activities of the non-banking financial companies (NBFCs) in the state, Chief Minister Manik Sarkar said here Wednesday.

“We have discussed in the cabinet meeting the illegal and fraudulent activities of the NBFCs and UIBs (un-incorporated bodies) and decided to ask the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to investigate their wrongdoings,” Sarkar told reporters.

He said: “Currently, the state police have been investigating 15 cases of fraudulent activities of these NBFCs. These cases would be handed over to the CBI.”

Sarkar, who also holds the home portfolio, has earlier told the ongoing budget session of the Tripura assembly that the state government has also been studying the legal aspects of the matter before handing over the case to the CBI.

The main opposition Congress members in the assembly have demanded an inquiry by the CBI about the unauthorised activities of the NBFCs and UIBs, popularly known as chit funds.

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

Sarkar said: “At any cost, the Left Front government was determined to stop the illegal operation of chit funds in the state.”

He said the Tripura government has taken several measures, including enactment of a law, to deal with such companies and to protect investors.

According to the chief minister, 27 NBFCs have already closed down their offices in Tripura after collecting huge money from the people, and 90 such organisations are still working in the state.

“Due to the wrong policies of the central government, the NBFCs and UIBs have been flourishing in the country and deposits in the government-run small savings’ schemes are shrinking.”

Referring to the Bengal chit fund scam, Tripura earlier demanded a common law in India to deal with illegal finance companies which dupe people after accepting deposits on the promise of high returns ranging from 20 percent to 50 percent.

“Giving power to the state governments, there must be a common act for the entire country to curb the illegal activities of the NBFCs,” Sarkar added.

Demanding a probe by the central agency, opposition leader Ratan Lal Nath told the assembly that the Assam government has already handed over to the CBI the probe into the illegal activities of the chit funds.

Sarkar in a written reply to a question by the opposition leader, said that since 2010-11, 27 NBFCs and UIBs have shut down their offices in Tripura after collecting Rs.23.16 crore from the people of the state.

Meanwhile, raids by the police and district administrations are being conducted at the offices of NBFCs across Tripura for the past two weeks and many documents and properties were seized.

At least three important executives, including a woman, of two chit fund organisations have been arrested in western Tripura recently.

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

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