Court freezes Rs 126 crore assets of NSEL defaulting firm

The ED has been probing the Rs 5,600-crore payment crisis in the bourse under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA).

New Delhi: A special anti-money laundering court here has ordered attachment of Rs 126 crore assets of one of the biggest defaulting firms and its associates involved in the multi-crore National Spot Exchange Limited (NSEL) scam.

The court has ordered the attachment of the movable and immovable assets of the firm-- Mohan India Private Limited-- and officials associated with it, under money laundering laws while confirming an attachment report of the Enforcement Directorate (ED) which has issued freeze orders on these properties late last year.

Mohan India Pvt India is one of the large defaulters of the scam with initial liability of Rs 922 crore and according to latest data it owes Rs 600.08 crore, of which it has paid Rs 52.85 crore to the exchange.

The ED has been probing the Rs 5,600-crore payment crisis in the bourse under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) that got public last year after investors claimed they were defrauded.

"The materials placed...Have, prima facie, established that the defaulting member Mohan India Group had misused the platform of the NSEL meant for genuine farmers, manufacturers and traders to buy/sell their produce (without any aid or exploitation by middle men) and realise a realistic market prize without facing the challenges of storage, finding a buyer and liquidity crunch.

"I am convinced, prima facie, that all the properties provisionally attached by the complainant totalling upto Rs 126 crore or so are involved in money laundering and therefore their provisional attachments are hereby confirmed," the court of Adjudicating Authority of PMLA K Raamamoorthy said in his recent order.

The Authority is mandated to adjudicate on strict enforcement actions while an attachment under the PMLA is aimed to deprive the accused from the benefits of his or her ill-gotten wealth.

The court that went into the details of the ED probe report made some scathing remarks on the dubious modus operandi deployed by the perpetrators to unleash the fraud on genuine investors.

"It is unfortunate that the NSEL's top executives and officials of its Ware Housing and Business Development divisions had aided and abetted the defaulting members in general and Mohan India Group in particular for their own personal ends. They all should be proceeded against and meted out maximum punishment as per law.

"Moreover, the properties acquired by them out of the investors monies, (which is now) proceeds of crime, should be attached and disposed off so that the investors are paid back their investments.

The court further directed the ED, which is probing the case along with the Mumbai Economic Offences Wing and the Income Tax department, to locate the "proceeds of crime" in the hands of other defaulters or their associates and entities and attach them.

Amongst the assets that have been attached by the probe agency include luxury vehicles like Toyota Fortuner, three Range Rovers, flats in Gomti Enclave in Lucknow, eight plots of land in Karnal in Haryana, a posh flat in Mumbai's Borivali, plots in costly addresses like Mehrauli, Hauz Khas, Jor Bagh and Sainik Farms in Delhi and other such properties.

The ED probe found that while Mohan India group of companies had "received funds in their settlement accounts from NSEL purportedly on account of sale of sugar..., they were eventually transferred to various individuals and entities and payments were made to car dealers, developers, construction firms etc by way of transfers, NEFT/RTGS payments/pay orders."

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