By Neeraj Mahajan
There seems to be a move to soft-peddle the investigation to pinpoint the role and involvement of the guilty and recover the ill-gotten wealth from their possession in the Rs 5600 Crore NSEL scam.
Many important aspects of the commodity market scam are not being investigated in the proper perspective. Almost two years after the start of the investigation several people who played an active role in the crime have not even been interrogated or accused of the crime.
Significantly not just one but three agencies two central and one state- Mumbai Police Economic Offenses Wing (EoW), CBI and Enforcement Directorate are investigating various angles of the case. Each of them has tried to dilute or water-down the case, sources say.
The agencies were either lethargic in arresting the accused or the accused managed to get a bail from a competent court because of delay on part of the investigators- in spite of adequate evidence in hand. A case in point is sluggishness shown by the EoW in arresting the Chairman of NSEL Shankarlal Guru, who reportedly siphoned off Rs 950 Crores to his Son in law’s company N.K.Protein.
Interestingly even though the Enforcement Directorate’s constitutional mandate is to investigate money laundering and hawala, the Agency preferred to overlook specific information about FTIL’s financial manipulations to invest Rs 877 Crores in Mauritius and Singapore.
Significantly the people and entities who stood to benefits most from the crime- Jignesh Shah, FTIL or MCX were nowhere on the radar screen of the investigators who were more interested in catching the fringe players. Curiously FTIL believed to be the mastermind behind the scam was allowed to diluted its stake in Bourse Africa and retain the money overseas allegedly on the pretext of paying some bogus debtors.
The email servers of NSEL maintained by FTIL which owns 99.998% share in NSEL mysteriously crashed while the investigation was in progress. Still no attempt was made to summon the FTIL Directors or forensically reconstruct the scene of the crime, so that important documents and evidence were not lost or tampered with.
The investigation is a non-starter. No action was taken against auditor Mukesh Shah. No attempt was made investigate the role of Indian Bullion and its Directors. Likewise, no attempts were made to attach the properties of the brokers or invoke the provisions of the MPID Act.
Apart from promises of attachment of properties of some of the accused nothing substantial seems to have been done restore investor confidence and the rule of law.
Meanwhile all kinds of lawyers, ex-police officers, FTIL/NSEL employees, facilitators and front men are being allowed to position themselves outside the EoW office. Their job is to ‘report’ the progress of the investigation to their masters and scuttle anything that is unfavorable to them.
The Association of NSEL investors is raising these issues in the Mumbai High Court through Ketan Shah, who is also one of the victims in the scam. The significance of the case lies in the fact that nearly 13,000 investors and their families — including pensioners, widows, and senior citizens lost their money.
“What is happening is mere eye-wash. We don’t expect anything to come out of this. We have lost faith in the investigation. Justice has not only been delayed but denied to us,” said one of the aggrieved investors who did not wish to be quoted.
The case comes up for hearing in the court of Justices Ranjit More and Anuja Prabhu Desai of Mumbai High Court today.
The petitioners seek establishment of a special investing team (SIT) comprising of officers from Mumbai police, CBI, and Enforcement Directorate (to eliminate overlapping of powers) or a special court as per section 6(1) of MPID Act.
The petitioners also seek time-bound and impartial investigation and attachment of properties of all the defaulters/borrowers of FTIL-NSEL -IBMA and their directors.