GTAC seller barred, fined

Guwahati, March 6 : The Guwahati Tea Auction Centre has barred a seller from operating in the auction for one year and also fined him Rs 1 lakh for his involvement in the recent scam at the centre.
At a high-level meeting held last night, the tea auction centre also decided to bar a warehouse from operation for six months and fined it Rs 50,000.
Assam chief secretary P.C. Sharma, who is also the chairman of the GTAC, chaired the meeting.
The centre also imposed a fine of Rs 50,000 on a tea brokerage firm.
The scam was detected on February 18 when a few buyers came calling with delivery orders to collect the tea they had purchased during the auction the previous day.
It was detected that there was no tea available in the warehouses. Mismatches between the quality of the samples put up at the auctions and the actual tea sold thereafter, which was inferior, also came to light.
The GTAC subsequently formed a special investigation committee to probe into the scam and action was taken on the basis of the findings of the committee.
Sources in the GTAC said it was agreed upon at last night’s meeting that some exemplary punishment should be meted out to all the parties involved in the scam, in order to restore the confidence in the auction centre. The scam had rattled the tea industry of Assam, forcing Dispur to call for the emergency meeting last night.
“If no action was taken against the guilty parties involved in the scam, buyers as well as sellers would have found more reason to avoid auctioning at the GTAC,” an official said.
There were also reports of sellers in Assam avoiding the GTAC and opting for the Calcutta Tea Auction Centre.
Sources said the chief secretary, in yesterday’s meeting, cautioned the GTAC authorities to be careful so that no such misdeeds could not be carried out in the future.
The special investigation committee report said though it has come to light that fraudulent activities at the GTAC have been going on since December last year, there was a possibility that such wrongdoings may have taken place on earlier occasions also.