Real-estate cos' ponzi scam worth over Rs 45,000 crore: CBI

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New Delhi, Feb 27: CBI on Thursday claimed the documents recovered by it during searches at the premises of Delhi-based business groups PACL and PGF show they allegedly used ponzi scheme to cheat nearly five crore investors of Rs 45,0000 crore.

In its case against PACL and PGF, CBI has named PGF Director Nirmal Singh Bhangoo andn PACL Director Sukhdev Singh besides six other directors of the companies.

The groups had allegedly raised investments from over five crore gullible investors through collective investment scheme under the garb of sale and development of agricultural land, CBI spokesperson said here today.

She said that after preliminary analysis of documents the agency came to know of the enormity of the scam. In Ponzi schemes, returns are given to investors from the money collected from other depositors in a pyramid-like structure.

"Initial investigation by CBI has revealed an alleged scam to the tune of Rs 45,000 crores in a case relating to an alleged fraud by Delhi-based private company and others through raising investments...through collective investment scheme under the garb of sale and development of agricultural land," CBI said.

PACL and PGF did not respond to emails sent seeking their comments. The sources said CBI at first did not realise the gravity of the scam and it was only when some laptops were opened they came to know that their earlier estimates about the size of the scam were just a tip of the iceberg.

CBI sources said the agency had carried out an inquiry, on the orders of the Supreme Court, into allegations that the companies had collected crores of rupees through deposits from public at large through their ponzi scheme promising land.

CBI sources said that during the searches it has recovered documents which show benami properties worth crore in India and abroad.

The investments made by the company in a hotel in Gold Coast, Australia, have also come under the scanner of CBI. The spokesperson said CBI has found prima-facie evidence which shows that PGF, having an office in Pashchim Vihar in West Delhi, has raised investments by issuing bogus land allotment letters to induce the investors.

"It was revealed that PGF, on being directed by the High Court of Punjab and Haryana to wind up the scheme and refund the money to the investors, a similar fraudulent scheme was operated under the name of PACL with office at Barakhamba Road," CBI alleged.

It is alleged that funds collected from new investors of PACL were used to repay the earlier investors of PGF to stave off criminal prosecution. The agency has carried out searches at the offices of PGF and PACL at their offices in New Delhi, Chandigarh, Mohali, Ropar and Jaipur.

CBI sources said the accused persons have been called to appear for questioning even as a preliminary round of interrogation has been done by the sleuths. "Funds have been raised by the two companies through a vast network of lakhs of commission agents spread all over the country who were being paid hefty commissions for luring the investors," the spokesperson said.

The searches were conducted at the premises of Directors Harcharan Singh, Chandra Bhushan Dhillon, Prem Chand, Gurmeet Singh, Subrato Bhattacharya among others.

PTI

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