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SEBI employees protest against CBI raids on collegues in Saradha scam bribery case

PALAK SHAH Mumbai | Updated on March 23, 2021

SEBI employees are protesting outside the SEBI headquarters in Mumbai. The protests were against Monday’s CBI raids on three SEBI officials by CBI for bribery allegations in Saradha chit fund scam, sources told BusinessLine. However, even the Supreme Court had asked CBI to investigate SEBI’s role.

“SEBI employees believe that it is undue harassment because of extraneous considerations and the decisions were taken at a much higher level,” a source close to SEBI employees union said.

Nearly five years after the key accused in the scam revealed in their statement that huge bribes were paid to senior SEBI officials to look the other way, the CBI conducted raids over three officials in the regulators Mumbai office on Monday. The raids were conducted at both residential and office premises of the SEBI officials.

The scam is where thousands of crores were collected through ponzi schemes in violation of SEBI rules, companies Act and other money laundering norms. Only SEBI registered fund managers can collect investor money.

CBI raids were conducted on SEBI officials in the rank of chief general managers and it also involved those who were posted in West Bengal, the sources said. After the scam came to light some time around 2013, the files in SEBI moved at a snail’s pace and no particular action was taken by the regulator for years. The CBI case is based on the line that SEBI delayed action against accused in the Saradha chit fund case after accepting bribes.

In February 2015, the Supreme Court had come down heavily on SEBI and the RBI and said that regulators were “largely responsible for scams of such magnitude not just taking birth but flourishing unhindered”. The SC bench had also remarked that “all guilty officials who connived have to be investigated. There should be nothing outside the scope of investigation.”

The SC had further read out a synopsis of investigations and said that it went to the extent of suggesting that “regular payments towards bribe were paid through middleman to some of those who were supposed to keep an eye on such ponzi companies.”

“The Regulatory Authorities, it is common ground, exercise their powers and jurisdiction under Central legislations. Possible connivance of those who were charged with the duty of preventing scams of such nature in breach of the law, therefore, needs to be closely examined and effectively dealt with. Investigation into the larger conspiracy angle will, thus, inevitably bring such statutory regulators also under scrutiny,” the SC had said.

Many prominent personalities, including politicians, Members of Legislative Assembly (MLAs) and Members of Parliament (MPs), have been accused of involvement in the scam. Even at the CBI and ED too the case went into a cold storage for years but has resurfaced after Home Minister Amit Shah last week said all the links in Saradha scam would be investigated fully. Shah had been campaigning for his party the BJP in the upcoming state elections. The Saradha scam is a political hot potato since it is alleged that it could be linked to the Mamata Banerjee-led West Bengal government.

Published on March 23, 2021

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