Kolkata: Saradha Realty, a prominent company in the Saradha Group and one which seems to have ensnared West Bengal Transport and Sports Minister Madan Mitra, still finds its pride of place on the website of the Saradha Group.
The CBI arrested Mr Mitra on Friday, in a case relating to Saradha Realty, among the companies that helped group chairman raise Rs 2,400 crores by duping investors through various instruments which included bonds, debentures, holiday time-shares and agro projects.
Saradha Realty was established in 2008 with its corporate office in Midland Park, the group headquarters in Salt Lake. Its registered office was however in Behala in another end of the city. It sold dream-projects to gullible investors and raised deposits from them.
The depositors, who were getting high rates of return, were often taken around the few projects that the group had put up, whether it was a real estate project or a newly acquired debt-ridden automobile company in a make-believe exercise that was aimed at assuring them of the safety of their investments.
Often its brochures would carry pictures of Mr Mitra who was seen at their events. This inspired people’s confidence. The real estate projects of Saradha Realty promised not only a home but lakes, landscaped lawns and gyms.
“With our small endeavour, we have started our work with the common people, putting more stress on the development of semi-urban and rural areas. We are trying to give full comfort to common people by constructing cluster-housing, educational hubs, hotels and resorts, as well as growing agro products along with offering packages for tours and travels for the enjoyment of the commoners. Moreover, we have an export division as well,” said chairman Sudipta Sen on the website of Saradha Realty.
Although Mr Sen’s operations span nearly a decade, it gained momentum around 2008-09, peaking in 2011-12.
Lack of financial inclusion in backward areas of the eastern states and the association of several leaders of the ruling party in West Bengal made people believe that they were parking their money in a safe haven.
Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee is however unwilling to apportion any blame for the proximity of her men to the tainted group.
“If you try to do background checks on everyone who approaches you for a puja inauguration then pujas will pass by .. is this possible?” she said in defence of her ministerial colleague.