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9 Jan 2017

Rose Valley probe gains pace

Vijay Deo Jha, TT, Ranchi, Jan. 8: The CBI's recent arrests of Bengal Trinamul MPs Tapas Paul and Sudip Bandyopadhyay over the Rose Valley chit fund scam have given fresh hope to thousands in Jharkhand who lost their savings in the murky scheme.
Rose Valley was prominent among the 30-odd chit fund companies that allegedly looted over Rs 2,500 crore across Jharkhand, especially in Santhal Pargana, coal mining and industrial areas.
A Home Guard jawan from Bengal's Purulia, currently posted in Ranchi, says he is daring to hope he will get his Rs 30,000 back.
Though the case has got a political colour with Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee claiming the arrests of her MPs is the Modi government's vendetta against her anti-demonetisation stand, the Home Guard jawan is unfazed. "Will I get my money back? That's all I care about."
The CBI and Enforcement Directorate started investigating into the cases following a May 2015 Jharkhand High Court directive. The Union home ministry also formed special investigation team headquartered in Ranchi for a speedy probe into over 200 chit scam cases, including Rose Valley, lodged across all districts of Jharkhand.
"In the last two months, the CBI has questioned many investors across the state who lost their money in Rose Valley. Details of officials and branch managers of Rose Valley branches are being compiled. The company had 21 regional offices in the state including capital Ranchi. We traced some company bank accounts and are scrutinising papers and hard disks," a CBI officer said.
Though the probe has gained pace no arrests have been made yet.
CBI's economic offences wing and anti-corruption branch in Ranchi and Dhanbad units, which are investigating the cases, admitted probing the scam with such a wide net of operators, their cogs and people they tricked wasn't easy.
As most victims are from Santhal Pargana, a CBI officer said on-spot camp offices for investigation a real need.
Getting the exact figure of victims is a challenge as most victims are semi-literate with rural backgrounds. If rich and aware, they may have invested undisclosed income and don't want the fact the come out.
"The CBI has booked accused of Rose Valley chit fund scam under Sections 120B (criminal conspiracy), 420 (cheating) and 409 (criminal breach of trust) of IPC and Sections 4 and 6 of the Prize Chits and Money Circulation Schemes (Banning) Act, 1978. Under the Money Circulation Schemes (Banning) Act, even depositors are answerable. But, we won't victimise anyone without reason," said a CBI official.
Many victims are reluctant to part with their policy documents in the original.
But still, victims see a ray of hope. Sushant Verma of Jamshedpur, who lost Rs 80,000, claimed Rose Valley used the Life Insurance Company logo in its offer document. "I was fooled," he said. "Now, I hope big fish pay the price."

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