Chit funds still preying on investors in Odisha!

Bhubaneswar: Surprising, but true. Several chit fund companies are still operating in several parts of Odisha and duping gullible investors. Even the Odisha government has admitted that a chit fund, Sahara Credit Cooperative Society and two of its sister organisations, have duped scores of depositors in the State.

The matter came to light after the State Cooperation Department sought a detailed report from seven districts based on the probe conducted by the Centre regarding the operation of such organisations.

Rajani Hota, a depositor from Jeypore had deposited Rs 5.5 lakh after she was lured by the attractive scheme offered by the company. However, she is now running from pillar to post to get her money back even a year after the maturity of the scheme.

Same is the case with the depositors in Berhampur. Though the company was supposed to pay nearly Rs 40 crore to its depositors, it is allegedly not refunding the amount citing that the matter is subjudice.

“Despite maturity, I have not been able to get refund of my investments,” said Bijay Kumar Padhi, a depositor from Berhampur.

It is pertinent to mention here that the Registrar of Cooperative Societies, Odisha had written to the Cooperation Department on July 24, 2019 regarding the operation of Sahara Cooperative Societies Ltd in different parts of the State. The letter further sought suggestions and onward transmission to Government of India for needful action.

“We are getting repeated complaints from depositors that they are yet to get refund of their investments despite maturity. The investors are being forced to reinvest in the schemes. We have asked DRCS and SRCS to conduct an inspection and submit a report,” said Bibhuti Bhusan Patnaik, Registrar of Cooperative Societies.

However, despite reminders and eight letters, no steps were allegedly taken towards submission of inquiry report regarding Sahara Credit Cooperative Society and its other two sister organisations by the officials of seven districts.

As per allegations, these societies are collecting huge deposits by floating schemes promising attractive returns. It is alleged that such units are not refunding amount to depositors even after maturity. In a lot of cases, the company is claiming that it is reinvesting the funds.

As per the Section 67 of Multi-state Cooperative Societies Act 2002, a multi-state Cooperative Society can receive deposit, raise loans and receive grants from external sources. But, following the ban on unregulated deposit schemes (ordinance 2019 amendment), a multi-state cooperative society is only allowed to receive deposits from its voting members only under this section.

Earlier, the State government seeking action against Sahara had written to the Centre in June, 2019.