Hyderabad: The Enforcement Directorate (ED) has attached assets and cash totally worth Rs 299.99 crore of Nowhera Shaik’s Heera group under the provisions of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act, 2002 (PMLA) in a Ponzi fraud case.
The properties attached include agricultural land, commercial plots, residential buildings and commercial complexes in Telangana State, Kerala, Maharashtra, Delhi and Andhra Pradesh worth Rs 277.29 crore. The ED also seized Rs 22.69 crore cash in bank accounts.
This comes after properties worth crores have already been attached by the Central Crime Station (CCS), Hyderabad.
The ED took up the investigation against the Heera Group under PMLA on the basis of FIRs registered by the Central Crime Station, Hyderabad, on the allegation of illegally collecting deposits from lacks of investors under the guise of high returns.
Besides these, there are multiple FIRs registered across the country against the group.
During the course of investigation, the ED found Nowhera Shaik had incorporated multiple companies under the Heera group and collected an amount of approximately Rs 5,600 crore as unauthorised deposits from around 1.72 lakh investors across the country by engaging a network of marketing executives and direct selling agents with the false promise of paying high rate of returns i.e. 3 per cent per month (36 per cent per year).
The accused allegedly floated multiple schemes and extensively advertised them to lure victims. Nowhera Shaik started 24 firms under the Heera group and 182 bank accounts were opened in banks in different parts of the country. Ten bank accounts were also opened in foreign countries such as the UAE and Saudi Arabia.
Nowhera Shaik does not possess any valid permission either under the Banking Regulation Act, Companies Act, RBI Act or from any other government agency such as SEBI etc for collecting deposits, the investigation revealed.
She started business in gold, food and textile trading to create the impression that she was earning legitimate profits but in reality the payouts were simply being funded from the cash flows generated from new members/investments. The volume of business in some of her other businesses were miniscule and not sufficient to justify the high returns promised by her.
Investigation revealed that Nowhera Shaik, along with her family members and close associates had diverted deposits to their personal accounts and she amassed huge properties. The funds were also layered into various shell companies and in the form of benami assets so as to cheat lakhs of depositors and to launder the crime proceeds for personal benefit, the ED stated....