In a key arrest by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) in West Bengal's Rose Valley Ponzi scam estimated to be worth over Rs 15,000 crore, Shubhra Kundu, the wife of the firm's chairman Goutam Kundu was taken into custody in Kolkata on Friday.
Rose Valley was one of many Ponzi groups in Bengal exposed in 2013 that continue to provide ammunition to the opposition against the ruling Trinamool Congress especially ahead of elections due this year.
The company came under the scanner along with Saradha scam, which too was a Ponzi scandal and triggered allegations of corruption against top leaders of the party.
Believed to be bigger than Saradha, the Rose Valley fraud according to Enforcement Directorate estimates, was worth more than Rs 15,000 crore which was reportedly collected from depositors across India mainly from West Bengal, Assam and Bihar.
According to the agency, a portion of the money was also used to bribe politicians so that the scam can run smoothly. Millions of people invested their life savings with hopes of high returns but in the end, all that they had accumulated after years of hard work got lost in the deep web of scams.
The Enforcement Directorate alleged that the firm had floated the scheme promising inflated returns on investments between eight and 27 per cent to gullible investors in various states.
The company had allegedly pledged astronomical returns to depositors on land properties and assets and bookings done in the real estate sector.
The company has also been accused of making "cross investments" in its various sister firms to suppress its liabilities towards investors.
The Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) had probed the company before the ED and the CBI registered cases against the group.
The ED had registered a First Information Report or FIR against the firm, its Chairman Goutam Kundu and others in 2014 under anti-money laundering laws. Mr Kundu was arrested by the agency in Kolkata in 2015. At present, he is in judicial custody. Multiple charge sheets have been filed in the courts in Kolkata and Bhubaneswar by the ED in this case.
According to news agency PTI, the CBI has been asked to go full steam on the cases related to West Bengal ahead of elections this year, with Director RK Shukla especially asking the team probing the Saradha scam to finish filing all the FIRs by this month.