Zee TV and Subhash Chandra Foundation of Essel group is reportedly keen to buy out the scam-hit Agri Gold firm. As per reports, Zee has agreed to take over the reigns of the 175-odd units of Agri Gold. And the same was informed to the High Court by the Deloitte company on Monday.
Regarding the same, senior counsel Sri Raghuram, appearing for Deloitte filed an additional affidavit before division bench of justices V Ramasubramanian and SV Bhatt, that is dealing with a batch of petitions filed by the Telangana Agri Gold Customers and Agents Welfare Association and others for a CBI probe into the scam and return of the depositors’ monies.
What is the Agri Gold scam?
Agri Gold scam is a multi-crore inter-state scam involving over six thousand crore rupees and has affected over 40 Lakh families. At least 112 deaths – of victims – were registered as suicides, heart attacks and owing to depression in the multi-crore scam.
It all began in 1995. Agri Gold had just started its roots in Vijayawada as a Collective Investment Scheme (CIS), with its chairman Avva Venkata Rama Rao and a few others. In the next 20 years, the company attracted several lakh customers on the promise that their investment would come back to them with higher returns. It also hired several ‘agents’ to convince people to invest in its group of companies.
Agri Gold allegedly received money from people and invested largely in the real estate market, besides a few other areas as well, all the while promising their customers that their money would only increase.
In the year 2014, things started fading. In November 2014, the company’s office in Vijayawada witnessed a tense scene as several customers landed there, reportedly saying that the cheques were bouncing and interest was not being paid.
By January 2015, thousands had turned up, saying that they were not getting their money back. Some of them had invested several lakh, while some had even invested a few crore rupees in the company.
The Andhra Pradesh police that month, registered several cases of cheating, fraud and irregularities against Rao, and raided his properties.
It was then revealed that the company was carrying out its operations without permission from the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) and Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI). Several thousand agents also said that they were cheated by the company.
Within a few days, due to the high-magnitude of the scam, the case was transferred to the CID.
Addressing the media a week later, Andhra Finance Minister Yanamala Ramakrishnudu stated that the company had amassed 16,000 acres of land in seven states, from the 30 lakh people besides deposits of more than Rs 500 crore in commercial banks.
The state government (being ruled by TDP) soon stepped in and issued a GO, attaching the properties of the Agri Gold. Following this, it set up a committee to decide on disposing the tainted company’s assets, and assured the victims that they would get their money back.
Meanwhile, following a Public Interest Litigation (PIL), the Hyderabad High Court soon took notice of the case and ordered the CID to give it updates on the case.
In October 2015, the High Court directed the state to speed up the auction of the company’s properties. In February 2016, the CID officially arrested Chairman A Venkata Rama Rao, and Managing Director A Venkata Seshu Narayana Rao from Hyderabad. However, they were released on conditional bail later.
The issue has been politicized by Opposition YSRCP in the AP Legislative Assembly that led to the war of words between ruling TDP and Opposition YSRCP. But the issue has not earned any solution so far and thus no relief to the lakhs of its victims till date.