PACL ponzi scam: ED attaches property worth Rs 472 cr in Australia

New Delhi: The Enforcement Directorate (ED) has issued a provisional order for attachment of properties worth Rs 472 crore belonging to Nirmal Singh Bhangoo in Australia in Rs 45,000 crore PACL ponzi scam, an official said on Monday.

The properties attached under Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) include MiiResorts Group 1 Pty Ltd and Sanctuary Cove properties, said the official, adding the provisional order would be sent to the government who would then take it up with Australian government.

Bhangoo was recently arrested along with his other company directors. He is presently in judicial custody.

The ED is investigating money laundering on the basis of Central Bureau of Investigation’s (CBI) February 19, 2014 FIR under offences of criminal conspiracy, cheating against Bhangoo and his companies PGF and PACL.

Bhangoo and his companies are accused of cheating 5.5 crore investors all over India by promising them agricultural plots and high return on their investments. They also collected Rs 45,000 crore over the years from the investors through their false promises.

Bhangoo had employed the agents offering them 15-20 per cent commission on each investors’ money and further each agent was asked to bring more agents and investors, like a multi-marketing scheme. There were 11 levels of agents for collecting money from investors.

According to the ED statement, the PACL directly and through its 43 front companies during 2009 to 2014 invested an amount of Rs 650 crore in its group company PIPL which further invested Rs 147 crore in 2010 for acquiring 50 per cent of shares of Australia-based Miiresorts Group 1 Pty Ltd.

The PIPL also invested Rs 459 crore between 2009 and 2014 for acquiring over 99 per cent shares of another Australian company Miigroup Holdings Pty Ltd.

An amount of Rs 25 crore was also remitted to Australia-based Hicky Lawyers Trust for purchase of Sanctuary Cove Properties, said the statement.

It said that Miiresorts Group purchased Sheraton Mirage Hotel for a price of approximately (Australian) $62.5 million and sold the same to Australian Wattle Development Pty Ltd in May 2010.

“This proceeds of sale (Australian $87.37 million/Rs 447 crore) by the order of the Federal Court of Australia were received by McCullough Robertson Lawyers and invested in an interest bearing account with an Australian trading bank,” the statement said.

It said that the two Australian companies– Miiresorts Group and Miigroup Holdings– are controlled by Bhangoo and his family members.