Govt moves to protect depositors in state

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Panaji: Taking steps to protect depositors in the state, the government on Thursday appointed finance secretary Puneet Kumar Goel as the competent authority for implementation of the Banning of Unregulated Deposit Schemes Act, 2019.

Under secretary, finance, Pranab G Bhat has been appointed as assistant to the competent authority with immediate effect.

The Union Finance Ministry notified the Banning of Unregulated Deposit Schemes Rules, 2020 on February 12. The rules provide for a comprehensive mechanism to tackle the problem of illicit deposit-taking activities and ponzi schemes and prevent depositors from getting duped.

The rules define competent authority as an authority appointed by the state with same powers as vested in a civil court under the civil procedure code (CPC) while conducting investigation or inquiry in respect of offences under the Act.

The competent authority can take action against an illegal deposit scheme, irrespective of whether the complainant is a depositor or not. Action can also be taken based on information received from law enforcement agencies or advertisements. The authority has the power to attach the property of the illicit deposit taker, say the rules.

The other responsibilities of the authority include maintaining a database of the list of deposit takers and making it accessible to the people.

“The designated authority shall operate a portal accessible to the public, containing information relating to deposit takers, which shall include the following, namely, list of deposit takers, the extent and areas of their operation, any action taken under any law for the time being in force against any deposit taker for collection of deposits and updates regarding proceedings for restitution of depositors,” say the rules. As per the rules, the state government has the power to direct the owner of any newspaper or other publication to publish a full and fair retraction of advertisement inviting a person to become a member of any unregulated deposit scheme. The retraction should be as prominent as the original advertisement and it must be published free of cost within two days from the date of the direction, say the rules.