Attaches Swiss bank accounts of City Limouzines Group, says the case will help other international investigations
For the first time, the Enforcement Directorate (ED) has been able to convince Switzerland to give it access to attach the accounts of an Indian company, City Limouzines, under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA). The company was allegedly involved in running a racket of ponzi schemes in various cities and has stashed away crores of rupees in black money in its Swiss bank accounts.
The company used to offer astronomically high interest rates on investments and plundered investors of crores of rupees.
“This important breakthrough is the first such attachment of bank accounts in Switzerland under the PMLA. This case will set a precedent so that the agency [the ED] can use it in other such cases where black money has been stashed [away] abroad. It will help us tremendously in our international investigations under the PMLA,” a highly-placed ED official told The Hindu on Tuesday.
The ED has attached two bank accounts held by Sayed Mohamed Masood, chairperson of City Limouzines and other companies of the City Group. The balance in both the accounts is $1.25 million.
Officials said huge transactions took place from both the accounts. They said more domestic and international attachments were likely in the near future.
So far, during the investigation of the cases against the directors of the City group of companies and Mr. Masood, the ED has issued 14 attachment orders and attached Rs.130-crore worth of movable and immovable assets in the name of the directors and the Masood family. Apart from Mr. Masood, his wife Chand Masood Sayed, daughter Jabeen Masood Sayed and son Jibran Masood were also found to own property worth crores of rupees, now being seized by the ED.
The group of companies was under investigation in various States. Mr. Masood and the directors of the company have been booked for cheating and criminal conspiracy. Even the Economic Offences Wing (EOW) of the Mumbai Police had been conducting investigation against the companies for more than two years.
ED officials said the breakthrough was achieved after they were able to convince Switzerland that the money in the accounts were ‘proceeds of crime’.