ED arrests key accused in Nature Heights Infra scam
JALANDHAR The enforcement directorate (ED) teams from its zonal office, Jalandhar, arrested Rajiv Rattan Dhingra, one of the key accused in the alleged multi-crore Nature Heights Infra scam spread across Punjab, on Wednesday late evening from Abohar. The ED produced the accused before a Mohali court and was sent to judicial custody at Patiala jail. Dhingra’s is the first arrest in the case while ED is also making efforts to arrest the main accused Neeraj Thatai alias Neeraj Arora, his wife Doll Thatai, and another director of company Amit Kukkar, who were allegedly backed by a powerful politician.
The special PMLA court judge, Harinder Kaur Sidhu, on February 1 had issued non-bailable warrants against Dhingra and others on the basis of the charge-sheet filed by the ED in the October 2020 against 20 individuals and firms. The ED sources said during the probe, several illegal properties of the firms involved in the scam were found to be registered in the name of Dhingra.
In June 2020, the ED has attached properties worth ₹24 crore belonging to a real estate firm for allegedly duping hundreds of investors of crores of rupees in various parts of Punjab. The firm, Nature Heights Infra Ltd, was being run by Abohar-based Thatai couple and another director of company Amit Kukkar. Neeraj and Kukkar figure as accused in 31 FIRs filed by the investors in various police stations of the state and were declared proclaimed offenders in 2017.
In June 2019, ED had attached properties worth of ₹22.24 crore of Nature Heights, which was confirmed by the adjudicating authority in New Delhi. MG Gold Realtors Private Ltd, a sister concern of Nature Heights, was also involved in the fraud. The ED had started probing the case in 2017. During the course of the probe, it received 491 more complaints from investors and 497 complaints from various consumer courts of the state. Investigations revealed that Neeraj, in a pre-determined way, tried to launder investors’ money for personal benefits, ED officials said.
ED investigations so far have revealed that the firm’s promoters had duped investors to the tune of ₹50 crore on the pretext of allotting properties at different locations in Punjab. So far, firm’s properties worth ₹46.5 crore have been attached. “Investigations are on to trace the remaining amount of proceeds of crime which may lead to attachment of more properties of Nature Heights Infra Ltd,” ED officials said. An investor said the company had circulated brochures inviting investments in colonies to be developed in Chandigarh, Talwara, Anandpur Sahib, Gobindgarh, Mohali, Zirakpur, Ferozepur and other locations in Punjab.
The company allegedly collected crores of rupees from customers before shutting down all branch offices across the state and the promoters vanished in thin air. Investors neither got possession of properties nor their money was returned, officials said. “The firm used to offer cheaper plots at prime locations. Later, it surfaced that most of the colonies awaited approvals from the departments concerned. The company neither allotted plots nor returned the money. Even, the cheques issued by the company were dishonored,” said another investor.