Monday, September 16, 2013

Shreesurya defaults, leaving gullible investors high and dry

NAGPUR: Once again, thousands of gullible investors have been left in the lurch by a firm promising incredible returns, including doubling the money within months. Shreesurya Investment had collected sizeable funds from the general public over the last seven years, but has not paid investors for the last four months.

Dhantoli police have received a complaint against the company, but no offences have been filed yet as preliminary investigations are still underway.

The firm's flagship scheme guaranteed to double the amount invested in a couple of years, with the sum growing 25% if the money was parked for one more year. Shreesurya had also floated an insurance scheme, which is illegal since it was not registered as an insurance company with the Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority ( IRDA) nor was the insurance plan approved.

The insurance scheme, Jeevan Kalpvruksha, sounded similar to one by the Life Insurance Corporation's (LIC), and Shreesurya offered a life cover of Rs 1 crore. The plan entailed an investment of Rs 5 lakh for 10 years, on which it promised lifetime payout of Rs 5 lakh each year after the 15th year, apart from the life cover of Rs 1 crore. TOI has one of its brochures in its possession.

On Monday, investors were thronging the new four-storeyed office in Pratap Nagar, but Shreesurya group proprietor Sameer Joshi was not available. Till a week ago, Joshi used to be available in the office, assuring visitors he would make the payments at the earliest. Now, he is admitted in a hospital as he is suffering from depression, said a kin, who did not disclose the exact hospital.

Joshi had registered Shreesurya Investments as a Hindu Undivided Family (HUF) unit, from which funds were parked in various businesses run as corporate entities.

When TOI visited the Shreesurya office on Monday, most investors who had turned up were senior citizen who had parked their retirement benefits with this firm. Most did not wish to disclose their identity. One of them was a senior engineer from the erstwhile MSEB, who had parked Rs 50 lakh, which included his wife's retirement funds, in Shreesurya's scheme. The couple have not got any returns since May.

Requesting anonymity, the man said many person retiring from MSEB had invested in Shreesurya's schemes and they have now formed an association, which met last week at Amravati. "The clientele is spread across Vidarbha. It was sheer greed. There are many big groups from various other government organizations too," lamented this investor.

Sandesh Mudholkar, an executive in a textile company, said he has invested Rs 3 lakh but could not recover anything even after the due date passed. Another retired person, S Khorgade from Katol, said he has invested Rs 16 lakh, which is everything he got at the time of retirement, and was now making trips to the firm's office in vain, hoping to get something back.

Another man in his mid-40s had invested Rs 20 lakh he received after taking voluntary retirement in a state government PSU. Almost every other investor had a similar story. Prakash Agarkar, who retired from Mahindra and Mahindra's tractor unit, said he and his friends had invested over a lakh in the schemes. "My amount is not very big, but there are several who have invested Rs10 lakh and above. I guess Rs 10 to 15 lakh would be the average amount parked by each person in Shreesurya's schemes," he said.
Vaibhav Ganjapure & Shishir Arya, TNN Aug 13, 2013, 02.24AM IST

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