Chit fund scam: Hopes fading for duped investors in Odisha

Bhubaneswar: Hopes of getting refund of their hard-earned money siphoned off by chit fund companies are fading for investors with the Odisha government entangled in legal hassles and investigations.

According to sources, the chances of refund to investors who deposited above Rs 10,000 are waning. The government is also having trouble identifying large depositors and selling the confiscated property of the chit fund companies.

“I deposited Rs 50,000 and my farther-in-law had invested Rs 1 lakh. We don’t think that we will get back the money. People who deposited less than Rs 10,000 are getting back their money while the officials are denying us,” said depositor Manjulata Das.

Another depositor, Basanti Mallick said “We went to Seashore chit fund company office in Bhubaneswar and Cuttack and showed our receipts. We didn’t get any money and don’t even have any news about large depositors getting paid.”

According to sources, the real problem before the government is that though 300 chit fund companies have been identified, cases have been filed against 50 only.

The situation is more complicated as some of these companies are located in other states. Moreover, there seems to be a lack of coordination between the investigating agencies – Enforcement Directorate (ED) and Economic Offences Wing (EOW), informed sources. There is also confusion as to how the confiscated property can be auctioned to return the money to depositors.

What has complicated the matter even more is the fact that the Supreme Court has ordered CBI investigations into some of these companies, sources said. On the other hand, people are not buying the confiscated property fearing problems.

“Large depositors have the right to get back their money. The law even says so, but the government is conspiring against them,” Convener of the chit fund depositors’ association, Jayant Das said.

Clarifying the government’s stance, Finance Minister Sashi Bhusan Behera said “The government has made arrangements to pay small depositors. We can think about other things after completion of this process. We have not thought about the large depositors as of now.”

It is to be noted that the Justice MM Das Commission has identified 2,18,000 small depositors. While some small depositors have received refund from government’s Rs 300 crore-corpus fund, some others have been refunded by the chit fund companies directly.