NEW DELHI: Tightening its noose in the Rs 60,000 crore ponzi scheme case involving Pearls Group and its chairman Nirmal Singh Bhangoo, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has arrested 11 more people in connection with the case, including five officials of the group.
Pearls Group was once the key sponsor of Kabbadi extravaganza of Shiromani Akali Dal- led governments in Punjab.
The arrested people have been identified as Chander Bhushan Dhillon, Prem Seth, Manmohan Kamal Mahajan, Mohanlal Sehajpal, Kanwaljit Singh Toor (all from Pearls Group), businessmen Praveen Kumar Agarwal, Mannoj Kumar Jain, Akash Agarwal, Anil Kumar Khemka, Subhash Agarwal, Rajesh Agarwal from Delhi, Chandigarh, Kolkata and Bhubaneshwar.
CBI had earlier registered a preliminary enquiry on directions of the Supreme Court of India against Pearls Group, which had allegedly collected around Rs 60,000 crore from around 5 crore investors all across the country by illegally operating different investment schemes, without any statutory approval, with a motive of duping gullible investors.
During investigation, Bhangoo, Sukhdev Singh, Subrata Bhattacharya and Gurmeet Singh were arrested on January 8, 2016 and a chargesheet was filed against the accused on April 7, 2016.
Bhangoo has been accused of siphoning off money to Australia.
CBI in 2014 had registered a case of criminal conspiracy and cheating under IPC sections of 120 B and 420 against Bhangoo, his two companies Pearls Agrotech Corporation Limited (PACL) and Pearls Golden Forest Limited (PGFL) and their several directors.
The same year, Securities Exchange Board of India (SEBI) had said that it would make a reference to three state governments, including Punjab, to register a civil criminal case against PACL Limited and Bhangoo for offences of fraud, cheating, criminal breach of trust and misappropriation of public funds.