NEW DELHI: India’s financial probe agency, the Enforcement Directorate (ED), has attached properties worth nearly Rs 4 crores of former Odisha MLA Pravat Ranjan Biswal and a firm named Media Guru Consultants in a ponzi scam.
The case relates to fraudulent collection of funds from the public on pretext of issuing preferential shares by enrolling the depositors as members of cooperative societies.
Movable and immovable properties worth Rs 3.92 crores of Biswal and Media Guru Consultants Private Ltd under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) have been attached, the ED said on Saturday.
In a release, the agency said that the companies that collected deposits were neither registered as Non-Banking Finance Company (NBFC) nor listed in National Stock Exchange (NSE). Hence, they were not authorised to collect funds.
“They suddenly closed down their business and defaulted in return to depositors after maturity and failed to pay even interest on the deposits despite repeated request and approach of the depositors,” the ED said.
It revealed that attached assets include bank balance of Rs 25 lakhs at SBI, Cuttack belonging to Biswal and one immovable property belonging to the media firm in Noida, Uttar Pradesh.
The agency had registered a case of money laundering on the basis of FIRs and chargesheets filed by the Economic Offence Wing (EOW) of Odisha Police Crime Branch and the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) against Seashore Group of Companies.
The companies of Seashore Group were allegedly involved in the process of money laundering, it added.
Out of the funds collected “fraudulently” by these companies, Rs 25 lakhs was diverted to the former legislator and his family members, and Rs 4 crores to Media Guru Consultants Private Ltd to set up a news and current affairs TV channel, STV SAMACHAR.
Earlier, the agency had attached properties worth Rs 258 crores by issuing four provisional attachment orders (PAOs) and also filed a chargesheet in a special PMLA court.