Home / Companies / CBI raids MPS Greenery offices in West Bengal

Kolkata: A day after the West Bengal government and the Trinamool Congress (TMC) party filed two separate petitions in the Supreme Court alleging that the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) was only focusing on the Saradha Group in its probe into enterprises that ran Ponzi schemes in the state, the central agency on Tuesday conducted raids at offices of MPS Greenery Developers Ltd and homes of its directors.

Raids were conducted at 19 locations in West Bengal for alleged cheating and breach of trust by MPS, said an agency official who did not want to be identified. The action was taken in compliance with an order of the apex court, this person added.

Whereas the CBI has so far focused on the Saradha Group, the Enforcement Directorate (ED)—another central agency that investigates foreign exchange violations—has been probing the operations of the Rose Valley Group, another enterprise that received deposits, along with that of the Saradha Group. MPS is the third such firm to get the attention of the central agencies.

Many more were in operation in the state until the summer of 2013. In the wake of the collapse of the Saradha Group, they all went bust one by one, each defrauding depositors of several hundred crore of rupees. The apex court had asked the CBI early last year to probe the operations of all such financial enterprises and unearth where they had siphoned the money they had taken from depositors.

Four months ago, MPS chairman Pramatha Nath Manna was arrested by the state police on an investor’s complaint that the company wasn’t redeeming matured deposits. He, according to the CBI official cited above, is still in custody of the state police. It isn’t immediately known when the central agency will question him on his company’s operations.

No one from the almost disbanded MPS Group was available for comments.

MPS had raised 1,600 crore till March 2013 through its various collective investment schemes. Fresh collections started to dwindle following the collapse of the Saradha Group in March-April 2013. MPS was the only deposit-taking company that had admitted to running collective investment schemes but without obtaining the necessary licence from the securities market regulator.

For years, the Securities and Exchange Board of India (Sebi) and MPS fought legal battles over its disputed licence in various courts of West Bengal. Court intervention helped the company to stay afloat and remain in operation. In October 2013, Sebi had ordered MPS’s bank accounts to be frozen, forcing it to pretty much wind down its operations.

The CBI’s investigation of the operations of the Saradha Group has led to the arrest of several Trinamool Congress leaders, including several members of the Rajya Sabha and a state minister. It may now be the turn of the Left leaders to face the heat as it is widely known that the MPS Group in its early days had close ties with key ministers in the erstwhile Left Front government.

MPS Greenery was the only deposit-taking company in the state that had obtained clearance from the erstwhile Left Front government to buy land above the permissible limit of two acres under provincial land laws.

Armed with the so-called 14Y clearance, which was granted by the land and land reforms department on recommendation of the animal husbandry department, MPS had built a large poultry farm and resort in Jhargram in West Midnapore district.

Before being voted out in 2011, former state finance minister Asim Dasgupta had launched a probe into the operations of the MPS Group, but he was unable to stop it from plying its business.

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