ED attaches Rs 1,317-crore assets linked to Ireo Group in money laundering case

The Enforcement Directorate (ED) has attached properties worth around Rs 1,317 crore linked to Ireo Group, which is alleged to have siphoned off Rs 1,225 crore of homebuyers’ money and laundered it using tax havens such as British Virgin Islands.

The attached properties include commercial spaces, residential premises, land and bank accounts belonging to the company and its chairman-cum-managing director Lalit Goyal, associated entities and key managerial persons, the ED said in a statement. The agency had arrested Goyal from IGI Airport in November last year in connection with its money laundering probe.

“Investigation has revealed that they duped the innocent buyers by promising them to deliver flats/plots/commercial spaces, etc., however, they neither delivered the projects nor returned their money. Investigation has also revealed that the directors of the company in connivance with others siphoned off money collected from buyers and did not use for the intended purpose rather sent money outside India,” the ED said on Saturday.

On January 14 this year, the ED in its prosecution complaint against the company had told a special court in Panchkula, Haryana, that the customer receipts to the tune of Rs 1,225 crore have been diverted outside India in the form of redemption/purchase/transfer & buy-back of shares/ FCDs, etc. in violation of the FDI policy and other laws. “The modus operandi adopted by the group includes routing of funds to India from various entities based in tax havens like British Virgin Islands, Mauritius, recording of fictitious expenses in the books of account, writing off project in progress, interest-free loans and advances to sister concerns and round tripping of funds through shell companies and creation of assets within and outside India,” the ED had said in the complaint.

In its statement after the Goyal’s arrest, the ED had also mentioned The Indian Express investigations into the Pandora Papers, which revealed that Goyal had moved an estimated $77 million (Rs 575 crore approximately) in the form of investments, shareholding and real estate, even as home buyers and investors ran from pillar to post for their money.

According to ED, it initiated the money laundering investigation on the basis of 30 FIRs registered at various police stations across Gurugram, Panchkula, Ludhiana, Delhi against IREO Private Limited, IREO Fiveriver Private Limited, Lalit Goyal and others for duping their customers.

According to revelations made in The Indian Express’s Pandora Papers investigation, Goyal, whose sister is married to BJP leader Sudhanshu Mittal, had moved assets, investments, and shareholdings, worth an estimated $77 million to an offshore trust structure, which included four entities registered in the British Virgin Islands — much before the group got into trouble. This was revealed in internal documents of Trident Trust, a global corporate services company.

Responding to The Indian Express report on behalf of Goyal, law firm Sasttra Legal, Advocates and Solicitors had said he is a Non-Resident Indian as per the latest assessment filed with Indian tax authorities. “It is reiterated that all investments made by Mr Lalit Goyal are legitimate and no money from homebuyers has either been invested or illegally siphoned off,” the law firm had said.

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