Friday, September 20, 2013

After milking investors dry, Shreesurya chief says profits are easy as churning milk

NAGPUR: As anxious investors continue to throng the Shreesurya office at Pratap Nagar, owner Sameer Joshi, the man running this beleaguered group was meeting select visitors at a city hospital on Wednesday. He claimed to be undergoing treatment for high blood pressure, caused by the stress of the last few days, and said he would return to work in three-four days.

After being unavailable at office for one week, he had earlier promised a press conference on Wednesday. However, now he claims he cannot get a discharge from the hospital as the doctors have advised him a few more days of rest.

Accompanied by his friends, Joshi looked in good condition. "You must go back and face the public, your presence in the office will diffuse the situation, but get well before that," said one of his friends at the hospital.

Speaking to TOI, Joshi said he is unable to meet his commitments because of the panic created by investors. "It all began with certain blackmailers maligning my image. Even people whose payments are not due are now demanding their money back, and so the calculations have gone haywire," he said.

Joshi claims to have a Rs 100 crore turnover from the businesses where he has invested the public money. But, as usual, gave only vague replies when asked how he managed to get so high returns as to double the investors' money in two years.

"I cannot explain entirely, but it is simple. Say, for example, our milk business. We can produce a host of products like butter, ghee and curds from a litre of plain milk. Selling all these gives huge returns," said Joshi, as his friends nodded to the claims. He said he would ensure every investor gets his money back, and that he had no plans to flee the city.

However, quite a few investors who interacted with TOI said Shreesurya had already defaulted on meeting its commitments on the due date. A senior scientist in a government research agency said the firm has been defaulting in payments since last one quarter. He and his friends have together invested over a crore in the scheme.

"Moreover, while making earlier payouts, tax was deducted at source but no TDS certificates were provided, due to which the amount cannot be adjusted against the income tax liability. Shreesurya did provide TDS certificates earlier, so we could get tax refunds," said the investor, requesting anonymity.

A retired officer of MSEB added that around 3,500 employees from this state-owned power utility are Shreesurya's investors. Most of them are retired personnel, who have formed an association. Investments made by this group range from Rs 3 lakh to Rs 50 lakh per person.

Even if the lowest amount of Rs 3 lakh per person is considered as the average, the total investment comes to Rs 105 crore. The figure may be much higher if the average investment by this group is closer to Rs 10 lakh each. There are thousands of more investors.

However, Joshi claims that the total money collected is not more than Rs 50 crore. A source in this group said that the total dues may be more than Rs 50 crore, even if the people who have entirely recovered their capital are taken into account. Joshi admitted that he had 2,000 investors from MSEB, but the quantum of investment was not readily available with him.
Shishir Arya, TNN | Aug 15, 2013, 01.25 AM IST

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