Chain Roop Bhansali (CRB), whose financial company collapsed like a pack of cards in 1997, along with the savings of numerous people. CRB then vanished from the public scene but has been resurfacing from time to time
Ramalinga Raju of Satyam has certainly eclipsed him, but there is no discussion about big Indian scams that does not include the shenanigans of Chain Roop Bhansali (CRB) whose financial conglomerate collapsed like a pack of cards in 1997, along with the hard-earned savings of tens of thousands of people. The CRB collapse exposed the hollowness of credit rating agencies, capital market regulation and the Reserve Bank of India’s decision-making process—it had been given a coveted provisional banking licence; it ran a mutual fund; and was the most active investment banker.
Mr Bhansali then vanished from the public scene; but you can’t keep an entrepreneur down forever and he has been resurfacing from time to time. Last week, we received a letter from Surya Nagar in Ghaziabad, about a secondary public school set up as a ‘society’ by a few professors and social activists in 1982. One activist alleges that Mr Bhansali has been trying to take over the school by getting friends and family to become ‘members’ of the Society and take over the school. This dubious modus operandi for taking over not-for-profit institutions is now fairly well established; the surprise is that nothing seems to have changed with CRB’s operating style.
Interestingly, the last time I heard about CRB’s comeback attempt was in 2002, when he was attempting a court-ordered revival claiming it was the only way he could pay back his creditors and depositors. He had even got a bunch of creditors to back his claim. Around the same time, he set up the Global Society for Saraswati Consciousness (GSSCON)—which was apparently a ‘spiritual institution to propagate Goddess Saraswati throughout the world’. Interestingly, the website of that organisation is still live (www.gsscon.org), complete with a photograph of MD Kanther, CRB’s legal advisor, greeting BJP leader LK Advani. It was wiped clean when I wrote about it in 2002, but has since been revived. When I tried the contact number listed at a Lajpat Nagar address in New Delhi, I received some shifty answers. I was first told that the organisation has moved away and then asked to call back the next morning. Its associated portals (www.carecure.com, www.apnogharonline and www.fundatemple.org) are still live and they, in turn, seem to link to a whole jumble of activities. CRB has clearly not given up his interest in education, but the portal does not mention a single promoter’s name. As earlier, GSSCON claims a Section 80-G tax exemption and is collecting donations of Rs50 per brick, for unspecified projects. — Sucheta Dalal