Enforcement Directorate chargesheets Pearls Group in Rs 48,000 crore ponzi scam
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Enforcement Directorate chargesheets Pearls Group in Rs 48,000 crore ponzi scam

The CBI arrested group CMD Bhangoo and his 3 aides in 2016 for collecting funds from investors in Delhi, Punjab, Haryana and Rajasthan through ponzi schemes in the name of real estate projects

punjab Updated: Sep 13, 2018 10:16 IST
Indo-Asian News Service
Indo-Asian News Service
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
ponzi scam,Enforcement Directorate,Pearls Group
Nirmal Singh Bhangoo(HT FIle)

The Enforcement Directorate (ED) on Wednesday filed a charge sheet against Pearls Group and its chief Nirmal Singh Bhangoo in connection with a ponzi scam involving over Rs 48,000 crore.

Apart from Bhangoo, who is in judicial custody, three of his colleagues and commission agents have also been named in the ED chargesheet filed in a special court here under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA).

The ED, which started the probe after registering a first information report (FIR) in 2015 based on the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) case, had in January attached Australia-based assets of Pearls Group and Bhangoo worth Rs 472 crore.

Was arrested in 2016

The CBI had arrested Bhangoo and his three colleagues in 2016 following allegations that they collected funds from investors in Delhi, Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan and other states through ponzi schemes, in the name of real estate projects.

Bhangoo, his companies the PACL and the PGFL, as well as lakhs of his commission agents were accused of cheating 5.5 crore investors on the pretext of sale and development of agriculture land.

The companies made false allotments to investors even though they did not own any land in their own name.

Promised moon to investors

Bhangoo and his companies promised the investors that allotment would be done on their investment between 90 and 270 days and if not, handsome returns would be paid.

The ED said the promoters and directors of the PACL and the PGFL collected more than Rs 48,000 crore from investors all over the country through a collective investment scheme in the garb of sale and development of agriculture land. Earlier, the amount was estimated over Rs 45,000 crore.

“Of the total funds, PACL invested ₹164 crore in Pearls Infrastructure Projects Limited (PIPL) for acquiring 25.37% shares and the remaining 74.63% shares of the PIPL were acquired indirectly by the PACL through its 43 front companies for an investment of Rs 493.18 crore. In total, the PIPL received Rs 657.18 crore from the PACL between 2009 and 2014,” said an ED statement.

The statement said that the PIPL, an associate company of the PACL, further invested Rs 147.38 crore in 2010 for acquiring 50 shares of Australian firm Miiresorts Group 1 Pty Ltd, and Rs 459.23 crore from 2009 to 2014 for acquiring 99.24% shares of another Australian firm Miigroup Holdings Pty Ltd.

“Miigroup further invested Rs 147.38 crore in Miiresorts for acquiring 50% of shares. An amount of ₹25.07 crore was remitted to Australia to the Hicky Lawyers Trust for purchase of immovable property (Sanctuary Cove Properties).

“In May 2010, Miiresorts, out of the funds received, purchased Sheraton Mirage Hotel in approximately AUS $62.5 million and sold it to Australian Wattle Development Pty Ltd in AUS $87.37 million equivalent to Rs 447 crore by the order of the Federal Court of Australia,” the statement said.

The Miiresorts and Miigroup are controlled by Bhangoo and his family members.

First Published: Sep 13, 2018 10:16 IST