According to SFIO, the Saradha group companies will face prosecution for violation of several laws
The Serious Fraud Investigation Office (SFIO), which completed its probe into the Saradha ‘chit fund scam’, said that its 14 group companies have been found to be running ‘ponzi schemes’ and would face prosecution for violation of several laws.
The investigation concluded that the group was using collections from new investors to make payments to the previously-enrolled members, rather than from income generated through investments, in typical resemblance to a ponzi scheme.
Among others, the activities of these companies were found to be in serious violations of the Companies Act, the SEBI Act, and several provisions of the Indian Penal Code, the Ministry of Corporate Affairs (MCA) said in a statement on completion of the SFIO probe.
The Ministry said those companies which have been found to have violated the SEBI regulations for ‘collective investment schemes’ would be prosecuted for violation of SEBI Act, instead of the Companies Act, as the former carried longer terms of imprisonment.
Besides, prosecution would also be initiated by the state governments for violations of the Prize Chits and Money Circulation Scheme (Banning) Act, while the probe report and necessary evidence would be shared with CBI to avoid duplication in prosecutions.
The scam, in which lakhs of investors in West Bengal and neighbouring states were defrauded of thousands of crores through illegal money pooling activities, came to light early last year and has also had its political ramifications.
The case has also become a political hot potato with the Mamata Banerjee-led West Bengal government facing flak from various quarters.
“The companies, their promoters, directors and managerial personnel have been found guilty on many counts of various provisions of the Companies Act... dealing with illegal collection of deposits and false statements," it said.
ICICI Bank announced its ‘Cardless Cash Withdrawal’ service that allows its customers to transfer money from their account to anyone in India with a mobile number. The recipient can withdraw money round the clock without using a debit card from over 10,000 ATMs of ICICI Bank across the country. The sender needs to be an ICICI Bank savings account holder.
The facility can be initiated by any ICICI Bank savings account customer (sender) by logging into Internet banking of ICICI Bank website. The sender first needs to register the recipient’s name, mobile number and address. The sender will get a four-digit verification code while the recipient a six-digit reference code, over SMS.
The income-tax department has rationalised the norms for scrutiny of tax returns, to bring it in line with global best practices. As per the norms released by the Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT), all cases where income exceeds Rs10 lakh over the previous year’s will continue to be selected, as well as cases relating to survey, search and seizure and reassessment.
However, the previous requirement of selection of all cases where value of international transactions exceeds Rs15 crore has been dropped.
The CBDT norms said cases involving addition in an earlier assessment year on the issue of transfer pricing in excess of Rs10 crore “on a substantial and recurring question of law or fact which is confirmed in appeal or is pending before an appellate authority” will be selected for scrutiny.