Panel probing Odisha chit-fund scam extends deadline

Bhubaneswar, Sep 2 : A one-man commission probing the multi-crore-rupee Odisha chit-fund scam has extended the deadline for submission of complaints to Sep 18, the commission secretary said Monday.

The commission was appointed in May to probe the alleged fraud committed by chit-fund companies and suggest ways to safeguard the interests of investors affected. It has so far received 76,212 complaints.

The panel led by retired Sikkim High Court chief justice R.K. Patra had earlier fixed Aug 31 as the deadline. Since more and more people are coming with complaints, the commission wanted the government to extend the deadline to provide opportunity to those who have so far remained left out, commission secretary Devraj Rout told IANS.

"The state government has allowed the deadline extension. A notification in this regard was issued Sunday," he said.

The commission tenure will end Sep 8 and it is likely to seek more time from the government to complete the probe, the official said.

Although people were earlier told to file affidavits using stamp paper, later they were allowed to lodge their complaints on plain paper affixing the three-rupee court fee.

The alleged scam came to light after many investors last year complained that several firms collected huge amounts of money from them promising high returns, but later refused to pay back as promised.

The economic offence wing of the Odisha Police Crime Branch has been investigating the allegations.

Although police raided offices of several such companies and arrested a score of people for irregularities, the government appointed the commission after coming under attack from opposition parties.

The companies accused of duping people include the Kolkata-based Saradha Group, and Odisha-based Seashore and Artha Tatwa groups. The loss from the scam is claimed to be running into billions of rupees.

The state government in July announced it would create a corpus fund of Rs.300 crore to help the duped investors.

--IANS (Posted on 02-09-2013)

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