MUMBAI: Assets worth Rs 207 crore, including a helicopter, two luxury hotels and a number of flats in upscale localities in Pune and other places were attached today by the ED in connection with its probe in a livestock ponzi racket.
The central probe agency said it provisionally attached the assets belonging to Ms Samruddha Jeevan Foods India Limited (SJFIL), its group companies, promoter and CMD of the firm Mahesh Kisan Motewar and his family members under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA).
These include a Rs 3.43-crore BEL 206-B3 chopper parked at Juhu airport here, hotels Le Royale Residency in Hinjewadi worth Rs 39.22 crore and Orchard in Shivaji Nagar valued at Rs 23.33 crore, plots of land, offices and shops in Pune, Akola, Solapur, Chalisgaon, Pandharpur, Nashik, Chandrapur, Osmanabad and Nagpur among others.
Immovable assets of the firm in Goa, Lucknow, Bharuch (Gujarat), Jalgaon, Satara and Thane have also been attached in the case related to the alleged duping of 20 lakh small investors.
The ED said it has registered a criminal case under the PMLA based on a Pune police CID FIR in the matter.
It said Pune police had alleged Motewar, his two wives and others were involved in the offences of criminal conspiracy and cheating more than 20 lakh small investors by attracting them through their business schemes like rearing, sale and purchase of livestock.
"They lured people to invest money by falsely promising unreasonably high returns and generated more than Rs 3,500 crore," it said.
The ED probe found that the company collected "a huge amount of money as deposits from investors which was neither refunded nor interest or assured returns on the investments were made.
"Thus, the entire activity of livestock trade was nothing but a smokescreen to collect funds from lakhs of investors, mainly in cash," it said.
Motewar involved his family members, relatives and office staff to carry out illegal collection and laundering through a network of 34 companies, the agency alleged.
It said the funds collected through the alleged ponzi or chit fund scheme were "used to acquire immovable properties ranging from plots, lands, commercial complexes, hotels, resorts, flats, bungalows and movable properties".
The firm and its owners have business interests in a range of sectors and services like construction, media, hospitality and software among others.