Eight people were sentenced to life imprisonment on Saturday in the first verdict in a Ponzi scheme case in West Bengal in recent years.
A court at Tamluk in the state’s East Midnapore district gave the order while hearing the Pincon Group case, which was filed in 2017 at Khejuri police station.
The court sentenced Manoranjan Roy, the company’s owner who is now in judicial custody, his wife Moushumi Roy, who is one of the directors and presently released on bail, and six other directors of the Pincon Group.
Two of the accused had died during the trial. While 10 other accused in the case were acquitted by the court.
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The company was charged with cheating thousands of investors and raising over Rs 800 crore from the public across several states. The case was probed by the Bengal government’s directorate of economic offences.
The court verdict against Pincon Group raised investors’ hopes of getting back their money.
The court slapped a fine of Rs 5 lakh on each of the accused. It also ordered the property owned by Pincon Group be confiscated and auctioned to repay the investors.
Roy was absent when the court delivered its verdict because he was reportedly unwell.
Roy’s lawyers said they would challenge the order and move a higher court.
Although the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and the Enforcement Directorate (ED) are investigating high-profile Ponzi scheme cases in Bengal by Saradha Group and Rose Valley, their trials are yet to begin.
In a separate development, Calcutta high court’s (HC) Chief Justice T B Radhakrishnan recently constituted a two-judge bench that started hearing exclusively Ponzi schemes cases every Friday since September 25.
The formation of a separate bench of the Calcutta HC to hear the Ponzi scheme cases is being viewed in political circles as a significant development since several prominent leaders of the ruling Trinamool Congress (TMC) figure among the accused in the Saradha case.
The CBI is trying to wrap up the probe in the Rs 2,460-crore Saradha case, where 18 lakh unsuspecting depositors from West Bengal, Assam, Jharkhand, Odisha, and Chhattisgarh were allegedly duped.
Sudipta Sen, who had owned the Saradha group of companies, is in jail since 2013.
While TMC’s former Rajya Sabha (RS) member Kunal Ghosh had spent over two years in jail custody in this case.
The Rose Valley scam, involving around Rs 17,000 core, is the biggest Ponzi scheme case in Bengal.
In 2014, the Supreme Court (SC) had asked the CBI to investigate the scams and the role of influential people in money laundering.
The ED is also running a parallel probe.
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