Kolkata: West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee Monday distributed compensation cheques to 929 investors who have been duped after investing in the ponzi schemes of the scam-tainted Saradha Group.
The beneficiaries had deposited up to Rs.10,000 in the schemes, till the company went bust and closed shop across the state unable to repay the investors who had been lured by the promise of high returns.
Lakhs of people, mainly poor people in villages and small towns, have been affected by the Saradha scam. There have been a spate of suicides by investors and agents.
Appealing to the people not to park their funds with any chit fund company, the chief minister said people should instead save money at home if they did not have any alternative.
The beneficiaries were chosen as per recommendations of the Shyamal Sen Commission, constituted by the state government to probe the scam and recommend ways of returning money to the depositors.
Speaking on the occasion, Justice (Retd) Sen hailed the decision as "historic".
He said 1,04,000 more depositors would be indemnified before the Durga Puja (beginning Oct 9). Two lakh more investors would get their money back after Diwali (Nov 2).
The government has set aside Rs.50 crore for indemnifying the depositors upto Diwali.
Sen said 17.39 lakh depositors have applied to the commission, of which the panel had heard 8,000 so far.
Later, in a post on social networking site Facebook, Banerjee gloated over her government returning money to the Saradha investors.
"In the last 35 years, many people have been cheated by the so-called 'chit fund companies'. Have we ever heard of anything like returning money to the people who were cheated?"
"We do not want to deprive the poor people. Our sincere efforts are always there to help the poor people in distress. Central Government agencies like SEBI, RBI, etc. should also ensure that poor people are not cheated," she said.