The Shyamal Sen commission probing the collapse of the Saradha collective investment scheme controversy has put the size of the scam at Rs 2,060 crore. This is the estimate of the amount raised by the Saradha group from various depositors, in what turned out to be a Ponzi scheme. The commission is understood to have given an interim report to the West Bengal government, with this figure. Sources said the central government’s enforcement directorate’s estimate of the size of the scam was higher. “According to their estimate, Saradha raised about Rs 2,400 crore. These are all preliminary estimates,” said an official of the commission. The panel got about 1.7 million applications. Most of these involved Saradha. But investors in other companies with similar schemes, such as Amazon, Suraha Microfinance, Sunmarg, ICore, Rose Valley and Alchemist, also registered complaints. About 85 per cent of the complaints pertained to individual investments of less than Rs 10,000; the highest amount invested by an individual in Saradha was Rs 27 lakh. On the basis of the Sen commission's recommendations, the government has begun distributing compensation cheques; it did so earlier in the month for 1,000 Saradha depositors.
State Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee had announced a Rs 500-crore fund to compensate the depositors. As this amount would not suffice to compensate all those affected, Sen had earlier told Business Standard that it would recommend the government sell the assets of Saradha to generate funds. Officials say the commission has identified properties of Saradha in 12 districts of the state. With its report having come, the government has asked the district magistrates concerned to do a valuation of the properties for auction. “The DMs have been asked to file a report on this. They have been asked to determine the reserve price of the properties for the auction,” a source said. Besides, 73 vehicles were seized by the authorities from different offices of Saradha across the state. The Commission has asked the transport department for valuations of these vehicles, also to be auctioned.