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Ambala man held for Rs 600-crore ponzi scam

The case, the Enforcement Directorate said, pertains to thousands of investors who were “systematically lured and cheated to the tune of more than Rs 600 crore by floating Ponzi or pyramid schemes assuring exorbitant returns”.

india Updated: Jul 30, 2017 16:14 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, Chandigarh/New Delhi
Ponzi scam,Enforcement Directorate,Chandigarh

The Enforcement Directorate (ED) on Saturday arrested an agent of a Chandigarh-based company and seized assets worth Rs 4.18 crore in connection with its money laundering probe in a Rs 600-crore Ponzi scam.

The ED had conducted searches in Delhi, Gurgaon, Faridabad and Ambala in Haryana, and Ghazipur in Uttar Pradesh in this case on Friday.

The central probe agency, in a statement issued on Saturday, said an absconding agent of the alleged chit fund firm under scanner — Kamal K Bakshi — has been arrested under sections of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) and was produced in the trial court in Chandigarh.

The court has sent Bakshi to judicial custody. The next date of hearing is August 11.

“Kamal K Bakshi hails from Ambala. He later shifted to Gurgaon,” an ED officer told HT. “He was arrested on Friday evening during raids conducted by the ED. His name is also registered as a proclaimed offender in one of the FIRs registered at the Sector-36 police station.” The officer said Bakshi had sold off his property in Ambala in 2014 before shifting to Gurgaon.

There are cases registered against him in Gurdaspur and Panipat as well.

The case, the ED said, pertains to thousands of investors who were “systematically lured and cheated to the tune of more than Rs 600 crore by floating Ponzi or pyramid schemes assuring exorbitant returns”.

“Fixed deposit receipts, immovable property papers, jewellery and high-end cars estimated to be valued at Rs 4.18 crore have been seized after the searches,” the ED said.

‘Mastermind in Malaysia’

The ED said the alleged “mastermind” of the scheme is a Malaysian identified as Mugundhan Gangam who floated two firms — Ms Unipay 2U Marketing Private Limited and Unigateway2U Trading Private Limited — in India.

The man is suspected to be hiding in Malaysia now, after he slipped out from the country, the ED said.

Describing the modus operandi of the alleged cheating in this case, the agency said the early investors of the Ponzi schemes floated by the firm were paid exorbitant returns in order to win over their confidence.

“When thousands of people across the country invested crores of rupees in the schemes, the companies stopped the payouts or monthly returns (since October 2010) and gradually siphoned off crores of rupees of investors,” it said.

“The company made manipulations using a web of bank accounts and layering of money through a plethora of such accounts,” the ED alleged.

Assets worth Rs 1.63 crore have also been attached in this case under PMLA, it said, even as the agency is probing the role of another agent of the two firms identified as Arvind Kumar Singh.

The agency had registered a criminal FIR in the case, based on an earlier complaint of other central investigative agencies.

FIR in city led to ED probe

A case registered in 2012 by the cyber cell of the Chandigarh police led to the ED investigations into the matter.

A handful of complaints — four from tricity — had initiated the investigations into the scam, which is now being estimated to be worth Rs 600 crore.

Sources in the police said that in 2012 about four complaints were lodged for online fraud. The complaints had claimed to have lost Rs 50 lakh. They had later even moved the Punjab and Haryana high court seeking probe by a central agency.

The cyber cell was investigating the matter, following which an FIR was registered for cheating, forgery and under the Information Technology (IT) Act at the Sector-36 police station. Kamal K Bakshi was later declared a proclaimed offender.

“The cyber cell case was registered at our station,” said Sector-36 station house officer Naseeb Singh. “We have made formal arrest of the accused, who was a PO. He has been sent to judicial custody. Intimation about his arrest has been given to the cyber cell.”

(With PTI inputs)

First Published: Jul 30, 2017 16:14 IST