Axes Multi Developers Ltd., a real estate company of Durgapur with forays into media, resort and hotel business is under investigation for alleged complain of cheating.
Following a complaint by a retired ECL employee in Durgapur court, the additional chief judicial magistrate of the court has ordered police to treat the complaint as an FIR and start investigations immediately.
Andal resident Ajit Das, who retired as a clerk with ECL in 2009, said he had paid Rs 1.08 lakh to Axes Multi Developers Ltd for booking two plots of three cottahs each in Durgapur four years ago. Later, he added, he paid another Rs 1.96 lakh in 28 installments to the company. The total amount that Das was supposed to pay was Rs 3.6 lakh.
“But in February last year, the agent to whom I used to pay the installments disappeared. When I went to the company’s office to ask for my money to be repaid, they refused to do so,” he said in his complaint.
Das said when he approached the company with a desire to buy land in 2009; he was taken to a huge field, but was never shown his two plots.
“For paying the installments, I gave cheques to a local agent named Chaitali Pramanik. I was taken to the site and was shown a huge ground. The company’s officials told me they would develop the area into plots of three cottahs each. After paying the lump sum booking amount (Rs 1.08 lakh), I started paying the installments. But never did they show me my plots. In February last year, the agent disappeared,” Das said.
He said he went to the Axes office in Durgapur’s City Centre several times, but the director, Katyayan Bhattacharyya, refused to accept the installments. He also refused to return the money.
Das said there was a clause in the papers he was given by the company that promised to refund the amount he had already paid with 13 per cent interest if he did not get his plots.
The former ECL employee said after Axes officials did not return the money for several months, he went to Durgapur police station last Thursday.
“The officer on duty told me to go to court as that would help them start a case against Axes. So, I lodged my complaint in court today,” Das said.
Advocate Rabishankar Chatterjee of Calcutta High Court said the police often ask complainants to go to court as a legal order helps them initiate a probe without interference from political leaders.
Durgapur police said they would start a case of cheating and criminal breach of trust against the company director. “Once we get the court order, we will take the necessary steps,” said S.S. Murugan, assistant commissioner of police (east).
Apart from dealing in land, Axes runs a local news channel by the name of Info, has hotels, resorts and several deposit mobilizing schemes. It has offices in Odisha and Jharkhand also. The media division is reported to be quite close with Trinamool Congress leadership.
Sources said that Axes group use to sponsor several Trinamool programmes. Durgapur Mayor, Apurba Mukherjee has often been seen sharing the dais with directors of Axes. Axes director Katyayan Bhattacharyya was seen felicitating Mukherjee when he was elected the mayor. On the dais with them was local Trinamool leader Pravat Chatterjee.
Mayor Apurba Mukherjee today denied knowledge of Axes Multi-Developers Ltd’s businesses. Today, when Mukherjee was asked about Axes and his owner, he said: “I have no idea about the company’s businesses.”
Interestingly, the Axes group does not feature on the list of 52 fund-mobilizing companies Mayor Apurba Mukherjee had sent recently to the District Magistrate to take immediate steps against them.
Echoing the mayor, Chatterjee said: “As political personalities, we have to meet a number of people. I have met him (Bhattacharyya) at different programmes. But I don’t know about the nature of his business.”
However Axes director, Katyayan Bhattacharyya admitted yesterday that his company has been running its funds mobilizing business since 2007 without permission from the RBI or SEBI. He added he would return the money to Das if he wished to discontinue the scheme.
Bhattacharyya said,” I only have a trade license, no permission from SEBI or RBI. So many like me are also in this business. Today because of the Saradha scam, you are asking me all this.
CPM criticized Mayor Mukherjee for not including Axes group in his list of companies against whom he wants immediate action. CPM MP Saidul Haque said, “The Mayor of Durgapur did not include Axes because its director is close to Trinamool. He provides fund for various party programmes of TMC.”
How have companies like Axes in Durgapur and Astha in Asansol (as reported in durgapuradda yesterday) dealing with money without authorization from the Reserve Bank of India and SEBI remains a mystery. Both this companies being close to Trinamool leaders of Asansol and Durgapur once again puts into question the list of fund mobilizing companies whose name has been sent to the DM by the two mayors, seeking action.