National

Ponzi scam: ED attaches Pearls Group assets in Australia

The Enforcement Directorate has attached Australia-based properties worth ₹472 crore in connection with a Ponzi scam involving over ₹45,000 crore, which was collected allegedly by two companies from 5.5 crore investors.

The companies, PACL and PGFL, have been accused of cheating the investors on the pretext of sale and development of agriculture land.

Firm chief held in 2016

The CBI had arrested Pearls Group chief Nirmal Singh Bhangoo and his three colleagues in 2016. It is alleged that they collected funds from investors in Delhi, Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan and other States. Based on the CBI’s case, the ED is carrying out money laundering probe.

“It turned out that from the funds, PACL invested ₹650 crore in its group company PIPL between 2009 and 2014, through itself and 43 front companies and from PIPL, ₹147 crore was used in 2010 to acquire 50% shares of Miiresorts Group 1 Pty Ltd in Australia,” said an agency official.

The Directorate said another ₹459 crore was used between 2009 and 2014 for acquiring 99.24% shares of Miigroup Holdings Pty Ltd (Australia), which further invested ₹147.38 crore in Miiresorts Group for acquiring 50% shares. “Also, ₹25 crore was remitted to Australia to Hicky Lawyers Trust for the purchase of Sanctuary Cove Properties,” said the official.

In May 2010, Miiresorts Group, using the funds, bought Sheraton Mirage Hotel for 62.5 million Australian dollars and sold it later to Australian Wattle Development Pty Ltd. The sale proceeds of 87.37 million Australian dollars were received by McCullough Robertson Lawyers and invested in an interest bearing account with an Australian trading bank.

“Miiresorts Group and Miigroup Holdings are controlled by Mr. Bhangoo and his family members. Accordingly, the sale proceeds and Sanctuary Cove Properties have been attached under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act,” the official said.

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Printable version | May 30, 2020 5:52:03 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/ponzi-scam-ed-attaches-pearls-group-assets-in-australia/article22398582.ece

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