A Left Front Parties delegation led by Biman Basu (Chairman, Left Front Committee, West Bengal), Sitaram Yechury (MP, leader of the CPI(M) Group in Rajya Sabha), Abani Roy (Ex-MP, Revolutionary Socialist Party) Surjya Kanta Mishra (Leader of the Opposition, Legislative Assembly of West Bengal), Pallab Sengupta (Communist Party of India) and Ali Imran Ramz (Member, Legislative Assembly of West Bengal, Forward Bloc) met the Prime Minister today on the issue of financial irregularities and fraud committed by financial companies in West Bengal. The delegation submitted a memorandum to the Prime Minister.

We are releasing the text of the memorandum for publication.

Dear Hon’ble Prime Minister,

We, the undersigned, draw your attention to the alarming financial irregularities and fraud committed by about 186 financial companies (`Chit Funds’ or `ponzi schemes’ as per local parlance) in the state of West Bengal. In the communications with earlier governments, it was pointed out, inter alia, the inadequacy of action on the part of the State and Central Governments in this matter. It was urged to involve and forge coordination between various investigation agencies under the Central Government like SEBI, SFIO, CBI and ED along with the State agencies.

Along with the letter No. 990/L.O./2014 dated 28.11.2014 from Dr. Surjya Kanta Mishra, Leader of the Opposition, Legislative Assembly, West Bengal, seeking this appointment, we had enclosed copies of a memorandum dated May 9, 2013 from the Left Front Committee, West Bengal addressed to Dr. Manmohan Singh, the then Prime Minister of India, a detailed reply from Shri Namo Narain Meena, the then Minister of State for Finance (Expenditure & Financial Services), letters dated July 15, 2013 and October 7, 2013 to the then Prime Minister of India on this issue.

Though some progress has been made in the investigations in this fraud under the Supreme Court supervision and some action against some of the culprits has been taken, this is inadequate.

Hob’ble Supreme Court upon a Public Interest Litigation directed the C.B.I. to investigate into the matter of cheating the common man being a part of larger conspiracy wherein involvement of officers of different regulatory agencies and the political personalities/parties could not be ruled out.

This larger conspiracy can only be unearthed and the guilty punished if all these fraudulent chit funds which operate in many other states of eastern India (Odisha, Assam, Tripura, for instance) are thoroughly investigated.

We apprehend that there may be an all out endeavour on behalf of the beneficiaries of this massive fraud to misdirect and/or throttle the investigation. The arrests of some Hon’ble MPs and a senior State Government Cabinet Minister raises genuine apprehensions of the involvement of the highest level in the State Government and the ruling Party in the state. Many such names, including the Hon’ble Chief Minister, have been reportedly mentioned by those interrogated so far.

We are seeking your intervention in order to ensure that all these fraudulent schemes in various states of eastern India are thoroughly investigated by the Central government and its agencies.

The Left Front parties are very much concerned about the repayment of the life long savings of millions of poor people who invested in these fraud `ponzi schemes’. It becomes the responsibility of the Government of India to identify the people involved in the larger conspiracy and attach their properties, movable and immovable, and ensure return of the deposits to the people so defrauded. The state government had appointed the Justice Shyamal Sen Commission to identify and compensate those defrauded. This Commission has since been wound up. It’s investigations and report, however, have not been made public. These materials must be taken over by the CBI to facilitate the ongoing enquiry.

We reiterate our position mentioned in our earlier letters for making the National Saving Scheme more attractive and taking expeditious steps for spreading banking network in West Bengal and in several other States by the Government of India. This, along with banning of such fraud `chit funds’, is the only way to guarantee the security of small investors.

A faulty Bill, `The West Bengal Protection of Interest of Depositors in Financial Establishment Bill, 2013’ moved by the present State Government after a legislation moved by the earlier Left Front Government and unanimously passed by the West Bengal Legislative Assembly in December 2009 was withdrawn on 30 April, 2013 and sent to the Hon’ble President of India for his assent. But, for reasons beyond our knowledge this was withdrawn and a new Bill has been passed in the Assembly on 12 December, 2013 which is still pending with Government of India and awaiting the Presidential assent.

Given the huge number of victims, we sincerely hope that you will urgently intervene on their behalf and also in order to put in place corrective mechanisms and regulations, so that such frauds cannot be committed in the future.