Markets regulator Sebi has refused to lift a ban on Citrus Check Inns and its directors in a 'collective investment scheme' (CIS) case promising returns on 'holiday plans'. Securities and Exchange Board of India (Sebi) through an interim order in June this year had restrained the firm and its directors for mobilising money from investors through unauthorised CIS activities. In an fresh order, passed yesterday, Sebi said "activities of the company and its directors are prima facie found to be illegal and in violation of the Sebi directions, revoking the directions issued vide the interim order, at this stage will not be in the interest of the investors." Accordingly, the regulator has confirmed "the interim order dated June 3, 2015 against Citrus Check Inns Ltd, Omprakash Basantlal Goenka, Prakash Ganpat Utekar, Venkatraman Natrajan and Narayan Shivram Kotnis." This order will continue to be in force till further directions by Sebi. The capital markets watchdog found that Citrus has about 4.5 lakh members under different holiday plans and as on March 31, 2013, it had generated sales to the tune of Rs 770 crore and the amount went up to Rs 1,600 crore at the end of March this year. Sebi had began the probe after receiving a complaint alleging that Citrus was running a 'Ponzi Scheme' and 'mis-selling' its schemes to the public. It was also alleged that Citrus refused to refund the capital invested by the complainant in June 2012, when she approached the company for refund of the money.
The company replied that she would "get the refund only after 4 to 5 years without interest." Sebi had received several investors' complaints against Citrus alleging that directors of Royal Twinkle Star Club are now running their CIS through Citrus. The regulator has already passed an order against Royal Twinkle and its directors, restraining them from collecting fresh money from investors through existing or new schemes.