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Thursday, December 8, 2022

PACL Defies Supreme Court Directions, Sells Attached Properties

People associated with the PACL are engaged in clandestinely selling its properties in defiance of the Committee’s directions

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Raju Vernekar
Raju Vernekar
Raju Vermekar is a senior Mumbai-based journalist who have worked with many daily newspapers. Raju contributes on versatile topics.

INDIA. Mumbai: In contempt of Supreme court (SC), the Pearls Agrotech Corporation Limited (PACL), which duped nearly 5.50 over investors, in an Rs. 49,100 crore investment fraud, has sold its plot of land at Juhu in North West Mumbai, which was attached and listed for sale by the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI).

The SEBI, wound up PACL’s collective investment scheme on August 22, 2014, and Justice (retired) R M Lodha Committee set up under the direction of the SC on February 02, 2016, is in the process of auctioning PACL’s properties spread across India and refund the investors’ money. The Committee has listed 27,133 properties for sale by the auction.

The case

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PACL, which had raised money from public in the name of agriculture and real estate business, was found by SEBI to have collected more than Rs 60,000 crore through illegal collective investment schemes (CIS) over a period of 18 years.

Although the main accused Nirmal Singh Bhangoo and his accomplices are behind the bars, others associated with the PACL are engaged in clandestinely selling its properties in defiance of the Committee’s directions.

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The plot admeasuring 2386.7 square meters bearing CTS No 39-B, located at Military Road, at Juhu is one of the PACL’s properties listed for auction. However, now the plot is in the possession of the third party.

This plot was purchased by PACL on July 30, 2010, from Swastik Coop Housing Society Ltd. The Juhu Vile Parle Development Coop Housing Society Association Ltd was confirming party to the deed of conveyance.

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Now as per the agreement entered into by NP Singh on December 28, 2021, with one Mangesh Madhukar Gaonkar (Aadhar card No. 747696864030), the plot has been sold for Rs 7 crore. Gaonkar who made part payment of Rs 30 lakh has agreed to pay the remaining amount within 12 months. Gaonkar’s colleague Nilesh More is also stated to be part of the agreement.

In the agreement, Singh has claimed to be the owner of the plot and he has the right to sell it. The agreement has been notarised by Advocate R R Yadav (Registration No 7538) of Thane far away from Mumbai. According to Vishal Mhetre, Secretary of the Janhit Association, spearheading the cause of the duped investors, the power of authority to sell the plot, presented by Singh is fake and the deal is suspicious.

Today the plot has been covered with tin sheets from all sides for construction activity and the board of one Safar Ali Sheikh is displayed at the site. Simultaneously the work related to the distribution of LPG cylinders is going on in the plot.

According to the records, some time back the “Elite Dzyn” an event management company was also functioning from the same plot. The plot figures in the list of the PACL properties are attached by the R M Lodha Committee. The replies to the email sent to the RM Lodha Committee and the spokesman of the SEBI was awaited.

According to Mhetre, the Committee’s process of auctioning the attached properties is very slow and it does not serve as a deterrent against the PACL. Despite the notifications by revenue authorities, the respective collectors have remained lenient and no notices have been published about the attachment of properties in local newspapers. 

The PACL’s properties located in Delhi, Bangalore (Karnataka), Raigad (Maharashtra), and other places across the country have been sold in a similar clandestine manner bypassing the Lodha Committee.

PACL’s properties in Chandigarh, which were in the name of Bhangoo’s relatives and third parties were also sold similarly. The properties worth Rs 27,000 crore have been listed for sale by the Committee. Of which the PACL has already disposed of properties worth Rs.1,200 crore, in defiance of the Committee.

Till now the Committee has been able to refund very little amount to the duped investors. Also, an amount of Rs 370 crore repatriated by the Federal Court of Australia after selling PACL properties in Australia has not been utilized to refund the investors’ money. This uncontrolled sale of the attached property is blatantly illegal and strict punishment should be awarded to all those involved in such clandestine sale. The SEBI should have taken prompt action to attach all the properties and freeze PACL’s bank accounts soon after it wound by the PACL’s collective investment scheme in 2014, Mhetre added.

Bhangoo, the chief promoter of PACL duped the investors across India, by promising them land at a cheaper rate although he and co-promoters did not possess even an inch of land

The principal recoverable amount which was Rs 49,100 crore, has now swelled to over Rs 55,000 crore, with interest and other costs. Bhangoo also collected over Rs 5000 crore from the investors, in the name of Pearls Golden Forest Ltd (PGFL). As such the Justice (Retired) Vikramjit Sen committee has been appointed to recover and refund PGFL investors’ money.

PACL’s History

PACL was incorporated on February 13, 1996, in Jaipur (Rajasthan). In response to investors’ complaints, the SEBI served a notice on August 22, 2014, to wind up the scheme and refund investors’ money within three months. The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) filed an FIR against PACL in 2014.

The SEBI issued an order to attach the PACL’s properties on December 11, 2015. The CBI arrested PACL CMD Bhangoo, promoter-director Sukhdev Singh, directors- Gurmeet Singh, and Subrata Bhattacharya in January 2016 and filed a charge sheet under Section 120B and 420 of IPC, in April 2016. In response, Subrata Bhattacharya moved the SC.

In 2015, the Enforcement Directorate (ED) filed the Enforcement Case Information Report (ECIR), against Bhangoo and others who included PACL and M/s Pearl Infrastructure Projects Ltd. (PIPL).

On December 11, 2016, SEBI initiated recovery proceedings and on September 06, 2017, it imposed a fine of Rs 2,423 crore on PACL and its directors for non-compliance with its orders.

In September 2018, the ED filed a charge-sheet against PACL and attached its Australia- based assets. In the same year, SEBI filed a petition in the Federal Court of Australia (FCA), to recover the money stashed away by the PACL using shell entities in Australia and also sought repatriation of the assets.

In September 2020, the SEBI stated that over Rs 429 crore has been paid to more than 12 lakh PACL investors with claims of up to Rs 10,000.

Today 17 persons including Bhangoo, his wife Prem Kaur, daughters Sukhwinder Kaur and Barinder Kaur, and sons-in-law- Gurpartap Singh and Harsatinder Singh continue to be lodged in Tihar jail.

Also Read: Corruption Perceptions Index 2021: India Ranks 85, Score Stagnant at 40

Author

  • Raju Vernekar

    Raju Vermekar is a senior Mumbai-based journalist who have worked with many daily newspapers. Raju contributes on versatile topics.

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