The National Company Law Tribunal’s (NCLT) city bench has ordered winding up of 13 defunct companies of the Saradha Group and directed the official liquidator to take possession of assets and properties of all these companies.
The group companies are Global Automobiles Ltd, Saradha Tours and Travels, Saradha Shopping Mall, Saradha Agro Development, Bengal Media, Saradha Housing, Rose Capital Ltd, Saradha Construction, Saradha Educational Enterprises, Saradha Garden Resort and Hotel, Saradha Landmark Cement, Saradha Exports and Bhasank Foods.
The group had mopped up money from over 17 lakh depositors through a ponzi scheme before it collapsed in 2013.
The Corporate Affairs Ministry had authorised the Serious Fraud Investigation Office (SFIO) to file winding up petitions against these companies on behalf of the Centre.
The SFIO had accordingly filed winding up petitions before the tribunal against the group’s entities to initiate proceedings on the grounds that the affairs of the companies had been conducted in a fraudulent manner.
The companies had been formed for “fraudulent and unlawful purpose” and as such the directors of the respective companies had been guilty of “misfeasance or misconduct”.
“I have minutely gone through the report filed by the SFIO after thorough investigation of the affairs of the above companies. The report reveals that the affairs of all the companies were being conducted in fraudulent manner.
“There is every reason for me to believe that the companies were formed for fraudulent and unlawful purpose. The promoters/directors of all the companies appeared to be guilty of offences of fraud, misfeasance and misconduct relating to affairs of the companies…
“Hence, I held that all the above companies are required to be wound up by this tribunal,” Justice Madan B. Gosavi said in his order.
According to the order, the agency, in its summary report, had produced before the tribunal details of the irregularities and contraventions of the provisions of the Companies Act being committed by the promoters and directors of all holding companies of the group.
After the investigation, the corporate frauds investigating agency had concluded that directors of the companies had cheated the public at large, violated provision of Companies Act, 1956, misappropriated Rs 2,542.62 crore, misappropriated funds of Rs 6.59 crore through illegal transfer of shares and prepared false financial statements, among others.
Justice Gosavi also said: “The official liquidator attached to the Calcutta High Court is appointed as the official liquidator for winding up of all the above companies with direction to take possession of the assets and properties of all the companies.”
Debjani Mitra was appointed as the official liquidator.
The tribunal has also restrained all the companies from disposing of their assets and properties.