In the past decade or so, India has been victim to a number of audacious financial scams. They not only exposed the flaws in the system but showed the depths of human greed. While some of them reached their natural end and some are being fought in courts, they have only damaged and scarred innocent people’s lives. Here are seven such scams.
Singapore-based SpeakAsia Online Limited (SAOL) asked investors to fill out forms which MNCs would use as market research and pay you for it. To sign up, one had to shell out INR 11,000 annually. The earning potential was INR 52, 000 a year. And if investors got more people to sign up, they could earn more money. The company did not pay any investor and duped 2.4 million Indians for around INR 2, 276 crores.
Saradha chit fund scam
They lured lakhs of investors in West Bengal by making them invest in their investment schemes with the promise of abnormally high returns. A classic Ponzi scheme, they used one depositor’s money to pay off another depositor. It was a scam worth nearly INR 24.60 billion.
Over three crore investors and money going over INR 24, 000 crores, that’s what the bone of contention was when SEBI, India’s market regulator ordered two companies of Sahara India Pariwar to stop issuing OFCDs and refund the money. Sahara contested the case in courts until it reached the Supreme Court. Subrata Roy, the Sahara chief was arrested on orders of the top court until all the investor money was returned.
The poster boy of India’s banking crisis, Nirav Modi swindled away over INR 11, 000 crores while Punjab National Banking (PNB) was caught napping. Using Letter of Undertaking (LoU), his company Firestar Diamond took loans and failed to repay them. When the first default took place, instead of following protocol, complicit PNB employees issued more LoUs on behalf of PNB asking other banks to issue loans. While Nirav Modi is abroad, it’s the PNB employees who are under fire and under arrest.
Jignesh Shah, once touted to become the next big thing in Indian markets is the face of the National Spot Exchange Limited (NSEL) scam. What was supposed to be an electronic portal for spot trading was not. No commodities were found as if the trades were in fact futures or forwards contracts. When the government shut it down, investors were robbed of their money. Around 18, 000 investors lost nearly INR 3, 700 crores/-
If the Nirav Modi scam shook India’s trust in banks, the alleged Rotomac scam depended on the betrayal. The CBI has alleged that Rotomac pen promoter Vikram Kothari had defaulted on a loan of INR 3,695 crores to a consortium of seven nationalized banks.
2009 did not start on a bright note for Indian corporates and the markets in general. On 7 January 2009, Ramalinga Raju, chairman of Satyam Computers (now Mahindra Satyam) resigned and dropped a bombshell on everybody. He wrote a letter to SEBI, India’s market regulator and company shareholders that he had manipulated earnings in the account books to a tune of INR 7, 000 crores. On April 9, 2015, a special court found Raju along with nine others guilty and sentenced them to seven years of rigorous imprisonment.
Each time a financial scam is executed, the nation’s economy, taxpayer’s money, and trust in institutions is eroded. The only remedy is effective and stringent checks and balances at every stage of an organization—public or private.