Mumbai: A manpower shortage in the city’s Economic Offences Wing has led to slow disposal of hundreds of cases, involving nearly Rs 12,394 crore.
Records with TOI show that from January 1, 2010, to October 2013, the EOW has registered 449 cases, the biggest involving SpeakAsia and the National Spot Exchange Ltd (NSEL).
Most officers are burdened with more than 10 cases each. An officer said, “In each case, we have to record the statements of hundreds of people (especially in the case of ponzi/‘double your money’ schemes), make seizures, conduct raids and send evidence for forensic audit and analyses. Staff shortage delays investigations.” The fraud amount in the NSEL case alone stands at Rs 5,600 crore, while in the case of SpeakAsia, the police estimate it to be more than Rs 2,276 crore.
Since its inception in 1994, the EOW has registered more than 2,000 cases. But it has only 76 police officers and 174 constables in its 11 units. “Our priority is to help people by disposing of cases so that the culprits can be punished,” an officer said.
Economic Offences Wing, with just 76 officers, probing cases involving over 12,000 crore
Most officers burdened with about 10 cases each
They say most cases are long-winding, involving hundreds of people and lack of staff is delaying investigations
EOW units work overtime as court proposal pending
Mumbai: Lamenting the shortage of staff and the battle to dispose of mounting cases in the city Economic Offences Wing, an officer said, “But most often, victims do not come on board and charges are not framed. In 2012, the city police chief had sent a proposal to the state law & judiciary department recommending the setting up of a special court to try EOW cases. But the proposal is still pending.” Last month, a reminder was sent about the recommendation.
Another officer said, “Nowadays, many people have become greedy and fall prey to ponzi schemes. They want their money to double overnight and hence invest randomly. We have found victims who have invested in three to four ‘double your money’ schemes.” Such victims, he said, feel that if they lose money in one scheme, they will recover it from another.
SpeakAsia has more than 24 lakh investors or panelists, but one investigating officer is struggling to file the chargesheet against more than one-anda-half dozen accused. In fact, many EOW units are working overtime. In the case of NSEL, the EOW had to take help from the detection crime branch to raid more than 185 places at a time last month. The team was to raid, videograph and record statements of the accused and seal premises.
HOW PONZI SCHEMES WORK
Afraudulent company floats a scheme. People invest. The money collected is used to reimburse initial investors. As people start getting money, more invest. As money is collected from new investors, commission is paid from their kitty to those who joined earlier. Older investors start showing cheques they received to new and prospective investors, boosting confidence in the scheme. Investors start getting friends and relatives into the scheme. The founders shut shop and flee once a huge amount is collected.
UNDER PROBE FOR FRAUD
Ravindra & Vasuda Deshmukh | Aryarup Travel and Club Resort | Promised investors 86% returns a year and commission if they roped in others
Sandeep Shukla | Aurum Realty, Yes Cube Infrastructure, Bristal Builders & Developers | Promised investors 75-100% returns a year
Masood Ahmed | City Limousine | Promised 50% returns a year
MMM India | Duped more than 70,000 people of nearly Rs 2,000 crore
SpeakAsia | Duped investors to the tune of Rs 2,276 crore