Gujarati film producer Pradip alias Munna Shukla, who has produced films like Raado, Naadi Dosh and Locha Lapsi, has been accused of running an illegal Ponzi scheme in Surat and duping investors. He has also produced a Marathi (Colorfool) and a Punjabi (Mitran Nu Shaunk Hathyaran Da) film. A primary investigation by the Surat police revealed that Pradip had collected Rs. 102 crore by operating a Ponzi scheme. The scam came to light in a SEBI inquiry. A total of Rs. 9 crore was seized by the police and returned to some of the investors.

A complaint against Munna Shukla was filed on January 18 in the Surat crime branch in connection with cheating to the tune of Rs. 65 lakh. More than 25 people complained to the crime branch of Surat police. According to one complainant, investors had lost money in the Shukul group which was operating from an office on Vesu VIP Road in Surat. Munna and his six aides had announced a monthly interest rate of 4 per cent on investment and had launched various schemes through his Shukul Group.

The Economic Offences Wing of the Surat police produced directors of the Ponzi scheme company, viz. Happy Kanani, Vimal Panchal and Ghanshyam Navadiya in court on January 19. The court sent Happy Kanani to remand till January 23. Vimal Panchal and Navadiya were sent to remand till January 27. Munna Shukla and his associate, Dhananjay Barad, are absconding.

A CLS licence of the SEBI is mandatory for mutual fund schemes and for firms which invest in shares. However, the company operated by Munna had no such licence. Investigations revealed that as much as Rs. 102 crore was deposited in two accounts of Shukul Wealth Advisory and Shukul Wealth Creator. When SEBI intervened, the two accounts had a total of Rs. 19 crore. SEBI seized the account and returned Rs. 9 crore to some of the investors.