Home / Companies / News /  Rose Valley’s Kundu keeps away from jewellery retailing business

Kolkata: Rose Valley Group chairman Gautam Kundu has lately distanced himself from his latest venture, retailing of gold jewellery, regulatory filings show.

Last December, he stepped down as director of Adrija Gold Corp. Ltd after being on the company’s board for about eight months.

He and the Rose Valley Group do not appear to have any substantial stake in the firm either: Soumik Basu, who owns 98.8% of Adrija Gold Corp.’s shares, couldn’t be traced or contacted. Adrija Gold Corp., however, has obtained 102.53 crore in long-term loans from various Rose Valley Group firms, according to its annual report for 2013-14.

As central investigating agencies look into the diversion of funds from the Rose Valley Group’s deposit-taking companies, the focus has shifted to firms such as Adrija Gold Corp. because it appears to be one of the many channels through which funds have flowed out of the main money-spinners such as Rose Valley Hotels and Entertainment Ltd and Real Estate and Landbank India Ltd.

Kundu, who is currently out on bail, declined to comment on Adrija Gold Corp.’s affairs. He was arrested by the Enforcement Directorate (ED)—a federal agency which probes foreign exchange violations—on 25 March.

His father died within days of his arrest, and he was given bail.

Last November, ED officials seized 296 crore in cash from the Rose Valley Group by attaching over 2,600 bank accounts, but this is an insignificant sum; the agency estimates that various enterprises of the group collectively raised 15,000 crore in deposits.

In the year to March 2014—its first full year of operation—Adrija Gold Corp. generated 29.6 crore in revenue and reported a pre-tax loss of 27.1 crore. Thanks to a deferred tax asset of 8.39 crore, the firm reported an accumulated loss of 18.86 crore at the end of March 2014.

Though a paltry sum, Adrija Gold Corp. received 1.58 crore from customers in fiscal 2014 under a gold deposit scheme—Sarnika. To be sure, several jewellers run legitimate gold deposit schemes, but it isn’t immediately known if Adrija Gold Corp.’s scheme is a compliant one.

It isn’t immediately clear what actually lies in Adrija Gold Corp.’s inventory, said officers of ED and the Central Bureau of Investigation currently probing the operations of Ponzi operators such as the Saradha and the Rose Valley groups. Investing into loss-making ventures appears to be one of the ways in which money was siphoned out of the deposit-taking firms, they said, asking not to be identified.

Large sums of money appear to have flowed into property development as well, mostly through proxy investors, they added.

A leading Kolkata-based lawyer said several of his clients from the real estate sector lately appeared to have access to “easy money".

“It is unclear if these developers acted as proxy investors and, if so, for whom," this person said, asking not to be identified.

The central investigating agencies have almost given up on further cash recovery and are trying to dredge out assets that have been created with the money received from Ponzi operators, either directly or from their proxies.

It is also possible that influential people who received pay-offs from these enterprises have invested the money in real estate development, according to investigating officers. “It is one of the easiest ways of hiding cash," one of them said.

Any asset that can be established with evidence to have been created with depositors’ cash can be seized, even if they are directly not owned by the Ponzi operators, they added.

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