The CBI has arrested 11 people in a case involving Pearls Group , which allegedly collected about ₹60,000 crore from close to 5.50 crore investors from across the country by floating unauthorised schemes.
Five of the accused, Chander Bhushan Dhillon, Prem Seth, Manmohan Kamal Mahajan, Mohanlal Sehajpal and Kanwaljit Singh Toor, were from the group.
The others, who are businessmen from Delhi, Chandigarh, Kolkata, Bhubaneswar and other places, have been identified as Praveen Agarwal, Mannoj Jain, Akash Agarwal, Anil Kumar Khemka, Subhash Agarwal and Rajesh Agarwal.
The arrestees were produced before a special court that sent three of them to judicial custody and the others to two-day CBI custody. They have been accused of aiding the prime accused and others in illegally operating the investment schemes that lured people into making investments on the false promise of huge profits. However, the funds were allegedly appropriated.
The CBI had registered a preliminary enquiry on the directions of Supreme Court against the Pearls Group, which was accused of illegally operating different investment schemes without any statutory approval, to dupe investors.
Based on the findings, it registered a First Information Report against the flagship companies of Pearls Group, PGF Limited and PACL Limited, its then head, Nirmal Singh Bhangoo , and others.
Further probe led to the arrest of Bhangoo, Shri Sukhdev Singh, Subrata Bhattacharya and Gurmeet Singh on January 8, 2016. Subsequently, a charge sheet was filed against some of the accused on April 7, 2016.
“In order to investigate the role of other accused and suspects in this multi-thousand crore financial scam, which had adversely affected the interests of millions of investors, further investigation of the case was continued,” said an official.
The CBI probe revealed that one accused company raised thousands of crore of rupees by issuing bogus land allotment letters. After the High Court of Punjab and Haryana directed it to wind up the scheme and return the investments, a similar fraudulent scheme was launched. The funds so raised were used to repay the investors of first company. A vast network comprising lakhs of commission agents was used to collect the investments.
The accused persons diverted about AUD 132.99 million, collected under one scheme, for investments in Australian companies.